The Gondoliers 2011

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The Gondoliers was the 39th show performed by the society. It was performed in Central Hall from the 24th-26th February 2011. Tickets were £4 for students, £7 for concessions and £10 full price.

The chair was Hannah Tomlin.




Sian Lomax

Musical Director
Thomas Nichol

Technical Directors
Toby Foster
Ben Whitelam


The Duke of Plaza-Toro - Thomas Newby
Luiz - Michael Houston
Don Alhambra Del Bolero - James Gaughan
Marco Palmieri - Chris Charlton
Giuseppe Palmieri - James Knowles
Antonio - Tom Bruggenwirth
Francesco - Dan Stanford
Giorgio - Stijn Hanson
Annibale - Peter Estdale
The Duchess of Plaza-Toro - Helena Culliney
Casilda - Pippa Loughran
Gianetta - Annabel Medland
Tessa - Anna Stephenson
Fiametta - Jo Wood
Giulia - Zoe Buxton
Vittoria - Lauren Mathews
Inez - Fiona Constantine

James Butterworth
Stuart Roberts
James Carr

Hannah Tomlin
Alison Foster
Kathryn Tracy
Lois Cross
Cecily Blench
Esme Wise
Danielle Neville
Morven Hamilton
Victoria Stewart


Violin I- Thomas Marlow (leader) & Jessica Conway
Violin II- John Cummins & Rebecca Kay
Viola- Lucy Dearn & Jayni Smith
Cello- Jessica Kettle
Double Bass- Vanessa McWilliam
Trumpet I- Christopher Parsons
Trumpet II- Samuel Weatherstone
Horns- Nicholas Tudor, Naomi Leverton, Jake Watson, Robert Lee
Trombones- David Sims, Emma Lewis, Catherine Garman
Flutes- Sarah Morpurgo, Kathryn King
Clarinets- Hannah Raban, Louise Ford, Jenny Desborough
Oboe- Becca Hart
Bassoon- Peter Smith
Percussion- Samuel Thompson, Anna-Therese McGivern

Production Team

Stage Manager- Ben Whitelam
Assistant Stage Managers- Megan Bryan and Louisa Lawson
Lighting- Toby Foster
Sound- Abigail Richardson
Follow-spot Operators- Bryony Cain, Ian Shaw


Chair - Hannah Tomlin
Secretary - Sian Lomax
Treasurer - Toby Foster
Press & Publicity - Peter Estdale, Chris Armstrong
Sponsorship & Merchandising - Chris Charlton-Mathews
Ordinary Members - Cecily Blench, Lauren Charlton-Mathews, James Gaughan
Webmaster - Thomas Newby

Extended Programme

Chair's Notes: Hannah Tomlin

I thought being chair would be a doddle, shout at the committee, read the minutes, lead the cast to the bar. How wrong I was; it is all of these things, plus so much actual work I sometimes forget how to be a student. And that's before we even thought about putting on a show!

It is very fortunate, therefore, that I have such an amazing team to do all the work for me. No really, despite appearances, they're pretty good.

When the technical team wanted to put an actual factual gondola on the stage and the artistic director suggested actually dancing a 'Cachucha', I was incredulous. Tried to convince them that they'd never pull it off; silly ideas above their station and all that. But they wouldn't have it, and so, despite me best intentions, this show has the potential to be really awesome… or catastrophic. I hope it's the former. For all our sakes.

Director's Notes: Sian Lomax

'What have I got myself into?!' was one of my first thoughts as I began to plan The Gondoliers. I'd already guessed that directing a show would take over my life but did I care? No! Of course not! I knew it would be worth it and in the run-up to opening night my faith has been confirmed. Directing such a fabulous show as The Gondoliers has been an amazing experience made so much better by the talent and dedication of the cast and crew. I've made them waltz and hand-jive, spin and gallop, shouted at them, dressed them in amusing hats, even made them sing… yet they've still stuck by me, done everything I asked and worked harder than a badger1 on a treadmill. Thanks guys- you've been amazing! I can't quite believe that all the hours of rehearsals, choreography and nervous breakdowns are almost over… well… until the next time anyway!

I hope you enjoy the show! Thanks for coming!

The Cast

Annabel Medland as Giannetta (Team Italy)

Having grown up in South London, Annabel is used to gangster rap and the blaring sounds of a Brixton briefcase. To protect her rep, her love for sung rather than spoken lyrics and the hand-jive had to be kept under wraps. Breaking free from London, Annabel has fully embraced the chance to sing in the society and has enjoyed the banter2 that has come with it.

From a musical family, Annabel has been singing since the time she could talk, and also plays the cello and piano. Amongst other roles, she has played Philadell in Purcell's King Arthur, Maria in West Side Story, and she has performed Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream for the Shakespeare Youth Festival.

Chris Charlton-Mathews as Marco (Team Italy)

Chris joined the society in 2001 and is still not dead. In that time he has played wandering minstrels, effete lords, cantankerous kings, and 'Lord High Everythings Elses', on top of finding time to direct and stage-manage on occasion as well. Through the society he has found a wife on-stage five times and in real life once, which caused him by far the most stage fright. He returns this year to a role he first played in 2004, and is happy to confirm that his Tony Bennett 'impression' will remain resolutely unused in this year's production. He makes no such promise about his Mexican accent.

Chris' ambition is to be involved in a production of every show Gilbert & Sullivan wrote, and would like the society to select The Grand Duke as their show for 2012. His Portuguese writing desks are doing fine.

Anna Stephenson as Tessa (Team Italy)

Anna seems to be fulfilling her role as the most excitable member of the cast and has good reason to do so; after taking on the challenge of Musical Director for The Sorcerer last year and playing the highest note possible on her piccolo in various other G&S shows, she has finally made it onto the stage!

Anna started dancing as soon as she could walk and was always told she couldn't sing, but persevered anyway and left school with a Grade VIII in singing along with a gold medal from LAMDA for drama. She wishes people would just burst into song and a pre-choreographed dance as she walks down the street, and regularly has to be refrained from doing so herself. In her spare time, Anna still enjoys juggling fire and studying for her physics degree, but has now added German Wheeling to her repertoire, of which she claims to be the British Female Champion.

James Knowles as Giuseppe (Team Italy)

Having James star as Giuseppe opposite Chris Charlton-Mathews' Marco makes for a pretty pairing, as the two lived together until James was ousted by Chris' wife! James' first major role was in The Pirates Of Penzance playing Samuel, happily stealing the show from the Major General himself. In 2008 his booming voice brought life to the late Sir Roderic Murgatroyd and in 2009 he filled the kimono of the stately yet bumbling Ko-Ko.

James is also a keen director. He took leave of the stage in the society's 2007 summer show Kaleidoshow, where not one but five musicals were condensed and performed. Feeling some sort of directorial privilege, he cast himself as the inspiring Enjolras in the final segment, Les Miserables. However, he took no such liberty when directing The Sorcerer last year.

Helena Culliney as the Duchess of Plaza-Toro (Team Spain)

Taking her third "old battleaxe" role in as many years, Helena can only conclude that the Gilbert & Sullivan Society is definitely trying to tell her something. Furthermore, someone seems to be spreading it: she has roles coming up as Ruth in The Pirates Of Penzance for the Jorvik Gilbert & Sullivan Company, and as Marcellina (The Marriage Of Figaro) in the York University Opera Society's gala concert.

Whatever it is that they're telling her had better be complimentary.

Now finishing her research on Gilbert & Sullivan, Helena is all too aware that she is remarkably well-preserved for a university student, and the consequences for anyone suggesting otherwise would be most unfortunate.

Thomas Newby as the Duke of Plaza-Toro (Team Spain)

This will be Thomas' fifth G&S show with the society, and his ninth overall. Not the society record, not by a long shot! He started out in the chorus and slowly worked his way up the ranks, playing the unwilling bad baronet Ruthven Murgatroyd in Ruddigore and a trombone-playing Dr. Daly in The Sorcerer. Thomas moved off-stage to wave the stick as musical director for the last summer show, Be Our Guest. That was far too much for him and he now enjoys being back on stage once more.

Outside of the show and the society, Thomas is in his second year studying towards a PhD in Chemistry. The biggest mystery for Thomas at the minute is working out if the chemistry workload or the show has started to turn him grey. It could be either!

Pippa Loughran as Casilda (Team Spain)

Pippa is a 2nd year undergraduate reading Management. Her passion for drama started at a young age and grew throughout senior school. Her previous performances include Chava in Fiddler On The Roof (2008) and she was honoured to play Eponine in Les Miserables (2009) before leaving school to come to university.

This is her first year in the Gilbert & Sullivan Society and she is enjoying being back on stage very much. Hopefully, this will be the first of many performances with the society.

Her other interests include cheerleading with the University of York Hornets, and she has been a season-ticket holder with Manchester United for as long as she can remember.

Michael Houston as Luiz (Team Spain)

This is Mike's fifth Gilbert & Sullivan show with the society, starting out in the chorus for The Pirates Of Penzance in 2007 and as a 'mad scientist' ghost in Ruddigore in 2008. He has also been actively involved in the University Glee Singers Society for some time, pointing out that he was doing it long before it was cool. Mike has since taken the role of Pish-Tush in The Mikado and played numerous Disney characters, donning a hula skirt to play Baloo, in last summer's Be Our Guest. Being as comfortable with a lighting plot and a hand-saw as he is with a costume and a song-sheet, he swapped to the production team last year as Technical Director for the society's very technically demanding production of The Sorcerer.

Back on stage this year playing Luiz, he is enjoying being a cast member once more.

James Gaughan as The Grand Inquisitor

No-one expects the Gilbert & Sullivan Society! Its chief weapon is enthusiasm, enthusiasm and a willingness to try anything once. Its two weapons are enthusiasm, fun, and a willingness- its three weapons include madness, no, amongst its weaponry…! Oh, I'll come in again!

This is James' ninth show with the University of York G&S Society, in which he continues his established tradition of playing generally villainous and untrustworthy basses, manipulating events from the safe distance of a scene or so behind the action. Past incarnations include the title role from The Mikado and Ahrimanes in The Sorcerer.

James is currently rehearsing for concert performances of The Pirates Of Penzance, playing the Sergeant of Police, and Rigoletto, playing Ceprano.

Fiona Constantine as Inez

Fiona loves to be on the stage, and as well as Gilbert & Sullivan, she is an active member of the University of York Opera Society, currently taking the role of Director for their upcoming production of Mozart's The Magic Flute. Her G&S roles have included Lady Jane (Patience) and Ruth (The Pirates Of Penzance) for the University G&S Society, and Lady Sangazure (The Sorcerer) for Jorvik G&S Company.

In opera, she has played Miss Baggott (Britten's 'The Little Sweep') and will soon be taking the role of The Witch in Humperdinck's 'Hansel and Gretel'. As well as singing all the time, Fiona studies for a Music degree and hopes to pursue a career on the operatic stage.

Production Designer's Notes: Chris Armstrong

'The Gondoliers' first premiered in the Savoy Theatre on December 7th 1889 (the year cheese finally met tomato and the 'pizza margherita' was invented). The show ran for over 500 performances in its first run, making it one of the longest-running shows in musical theatre at the time. It followed the positive reception of Gilbert & Sullivan's 'The Yeomen Of The Guard', the most serious of the fourteen Savoy Operas, and Sullivan initially wished to continue the trend with more solemn, dramatic work. Gilbert resisted the idea, and it was some time before the two great egos settled upon a compromise in 'The Gondoliers'. The setting gave Sullivan an opportunity to write his brightest and most inspired music, and the plot gave Gilbert a chance to excel with his witty satire and absurdist plot twists. Despite the success and acclaim of 'The Gondoliers', it would be the last great hit for librettist and composer. Tensions between the duo were always high, and it was during the run of 'The Gondoliers' that a quarrel over a £500 carpet exploded the partnership between W.S. Gilbert, Arthur Sullivan and their producer Richard D'Oyly Carte. They would eventually reunite for two final productions ('Utopia Ltd.' and 'The Grand Duke'), but these shows never repliated the success of 'The Gondoliers' and Gilbert and Sullivan's earlier operettas.

This production of 'The Gondoliers' has been one of the most ambitious by the society for many years. Beginning on a warm summer's day in Halifax College when the production team, a few fresh-faced first-years and one surly post-graduate, first got together, it has been almost a year in the making. The setting and concept behind the show have undergone countless revisions- including the customary "…in space!" variant. The very first plan, as over-ambitious as ever, involved building a full-sized Venetian bridge on the stage of Central Hall. Although a feasible and reasonable task (contrary to some opinions), the sheer amount of scaffolding involved was prohibitively expensive. Things began to get more elaborate as plans for a river to sail the gondola into turned to using real water… but anyway, with these oh-so-useable ideas out of the way early the society was given plenty of time to develop, plan and eventually construct the final product.

The show itself presents more than a fair share of challenges. Like many of the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, 'The Gondoliers' is set in two completely contrasting locales; amongst the waters and architecture of Venice for Act I and the palace pavilion of Barataria for Act II. It's a difficult job for a set designer, especially in Central Hall- with its complete lack of flying rigs, wings, trap doors and the myriad of toys available to professional theatres- to convey the majesty of these two locations with under fifteen minutes to swap between them.

Besides the demands of the story itself, there are plenty other touches applied to 'The Gondoliers'. A gondola is an almost essential addition to any production of this great operetta and is often included in many guises. Commonly, a cardboard cut-out is walked on stage by the actors arriving in it to create the illusion of it sailing in- or perhaps with their feet intentionally shown for comic effect! However, we were certain from the very start that we wanted something far more substantial. As eBay didn't stock any second-hand gondolas, we constructed our own solid prop. Although not to the same exacting yet austere specifications of a modern gondola (with 280 separate parts, 8 types of wood and 700kg of weight) it still has the feel of a water-worthy gondola, and has made many trips around campus as we've tested and propelled it from storage to Central Hall and back.

'The Gondoliers' was originally set by W.S. Gilbert in the early 18th century; a golden age of Venice when the city first became widely renowned for its architectural beauty. Although we were free from any pretence of historical accuracy, we did decide to ground out inspirations in the Edwardian period. So suits, waistcoats and elaborate dresses were the order of the day for many of the cast. The distinctive straw boaters and striped shirts that make up the archetypal gondolier- a must-have for any production of 'The Gondoliers'- are more recent than ever Gilbert and Sullivan's heyday of the 1880s.

Hopefully, the effort and planning will pay off and we will have one of the most memorable productions of 'The Gondoliers' that the society has ever performed.

Production Team

Sian Lomax: Director

Sian was born in a stable in Bethlehem, the product of an illicit liaison between a badger and a Disney princess. On her arrival in York, she was confused by the ducks and the fact that she had to supply her own crayons for her geography degree. It may have been this confusion which caused her to wander into rehearsals for The Sorcerer last year, but we're very glad she did. She followed up her triumph as Second Wench in 2010 with her directorial début in last summer's Be Our Guest, in which she demonstrated all her powers of persuasion in getting some members of the cast to perform in front of a paying audience wearing some very silly things.

Sian's greatest love is badgers, her greatest fear is that the sky will one day fall on her head and her biggest mistake was letting Chris Charlton write this blurb. Vote Grand Duke for 2012.

Chris Armstrong: Production Designer

Despite never having been on stage, ever, Chris is one of the longest-serving members of the G&S Society. Starting as a last-minute stage-hand for 2005's Princess Ida, he then quickly rose through the ranks of the society's technical wing. He took the reins as Technical Director for 2007's Pirates Of Penzance and 2008's Ruddigore, before taking a break to act as Chair and Secretary of the society. He now returns to the head of the production in the guise of "Production Designer"- a role he makes no secret of merely inventing for himself to get as much credit for as little work as possible. In his copious spare time he is working towards a PhD thesis tentatively titled "The Application of Parahydroged-Induced Polarisation to Mechanistic Studies of Rhodium-Catalysed Carbonylation". No, he doesn't know what that means either.

Toby Foster: Technical Director

Toby has faced something of a predicament this year. As Technical Director, he wanted to make the set, sound and lighting as shiny, exciting and expensive as physically possible. As society Treasurer, he wanted to spend as little money as possible. He hopes you can see which impulse won out in the end.

Ben Whitelam: Technical Director

Ben only got the job of Technical Director through nepotism. Only joking… he's actually quite good at what he does, which generally tends to involve a drill, some hardboard and a shipping container. He would like to state for the record that he doesn't have a clue about G&S, music in general and still doesn't understand the plot of 'The Gondoliers'… he only 'got' 'The Sorcerer' last Tuesday.

Cecily Blench: Costume Designer

Performing in her third Gilbert & Sullivan show, Cecily is this time not only singing and dancing for the entertainment of the masses, but has also taken over the role of costume designer and creator this year!

All the costumes have been hand-sewn and designed primarily by Cecily in conjunction with her team of seamstresses and our director extraordinaire Sian. This of course includes the stunning dresses of the Duchess and Casilda and those brightly coloured frock coats that the gondoliers wear in Act II!

It's no wonder that we hope she considers continuing to costume our cast for many more performances!

Thank you Cecily!

Technical Director's Notes: Ben and Toby

The Gondoliers has proved a technically difficult show, while there are no bangs, smoke or expanding tables; there were numerous complex problems that needed to be solved. The need to convey the scope and magic of Venice during the first act, contrasting with the royal court of Act II was the reason behind the simple-to-look-at but technically complex lighting. The need for a complete set change, together with the challenge of creating a realistic 'river' for our gondola to float upon have tested the society's imagination and construction abilites to the limit. Building the gondola that could carry the actors both on and off stage was actually a simpler challenge (despite the Health and Safety implications!).

Thomas Nichol: Musical Director

Tom comes from Malvern, Worcerstershire and is currently in his second year reading Music, studying the piano under Sarah Beth-Briggs. Tom has an extensive history of working in theate productions, including being a pit musician for shows such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Wonderful Town and several pantomimes, and has also recently finished musically directing a show in Worcester. He has also conducted several choirs in the past, including the Malvern Male Voice Choir and the St. Richard's Hospice Choir. As a pianist, Tom has participated in several masterclasses with experts such as Vanessa Latarche and Christopher Glynn and has acted as an accompanist in masterclasses with Peter Seymour and Michael Collins. Tom works extensively as an accompanist for soloists, as well as acting as one of the principal repetiteurs for the University of York Opera Society. After finishing his studies, Tom hopes to begin a career in teaching.

See also

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