Like pretty much everybody else Toronto Operetta Theatre has chosen to go virtual for their latest offering. It’s a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers filmed at the Edward Jackman Centre. It’s very much a “bare bones” production. The cast is reduced to nine roles and the chorus is gone. Accompaniment is piano and accordion. The Jackman Centre is a rehearsal space and looks like one. The film appears to havebeen filmed with a single camera, in one take with minimal post processing though, despite which the audio and video quality is excellent.
Having said all that it really feels like Toronto Operetta Theatre doing G&S rather well (which hasn’t always been the case in my experience). Here the singing is good and, except for a few dodgy moments near the beginning, the diction is fine and the words can be understood. The cast seem to have a good grasp of the G&S idiom and the nature of the comic timing required to make G&S work.
TOT veterans Greg Finney and Elizabeth Beeler camp it up nicely as the Duke and Duchess of Plaza Toro while Allison Walmsley (a new face to me) makes an attractive and sweet toned Cresilda with her love interest, Luiz, competently effected by Josh Clemenger, Tonatiuh Abrego, Bradley Christensen, Daniela Agostino and Stephanie O’Leary provide a lively and genuinely funny quartet of gondoliers and sweethearts and Sean Curran is a suitably imposing Grand Inquisitor. Karina Bray gets a brief cameo as Inez officially revealing the baby substitution that was telegraphed about five minutes in. The combination of piano (Narmina Afandiyeva) and accordion (Matti Pullki) is surprisingly effective. Stage and musical direction is, as ever, in the hands of Guillermo Silva-Marin and Derek Bate.
Even if it’s a bit rough around the edges this is a genuinely enjoyable production and TOT fans will feel they got their fix. It will be available on-line until April 5th and tickets ($20+fees) can be purchased on Eventbrite.