Watermill - The Gondoliers
28th March to 12th May 2001.
This is G & S with a twist! A Chicago mafia family descends on the sophisticated surroundings of a London Italian jazz café, The Gondola! Their aim is to find out which of the sexy Palmieri brothers is the new head of a powerful mob family. They soon find themselves in deeper water than they could ever have imagined possible. Plots and intrigues, love and romance, passion and power everything is at stake in this madcap, delicious concoction.
See the Guardian review at www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2001/apr/05/theatre.artsfeatures1. Unfortunately the Telegraph review is no longer accessible.
The Newbury Weekly News had this to say.
Doyle reinvents G&S in a delicious frenzy
'THE GONDOLIERS', at The Watermill Theatre, from March 28 to May 12
Some may say that John Doyle, director/adaptor of 'The Gondoliers', has shown colossal cheek in taking the best of Sullivan's music from this favourite of amateur societies, and attaching it to a story which only nods in the direction of the original plot. However, the production, as Mr Doyle says, is a reinvention, not an update. Ridiculous, therefore, to make comparisons, better to enjoy it for the zany, deliciously frenzied, jazzy piece it is, though paradoxically, it will be those familiar with Gilbert's words who extract most humour from the script changes.
This is the NewburyTheatre opinion.
The Gondoliers at the Watermill, 28th March to 12th May.
I like the occasional opera - I've sat through and enjoyed four hours of Götterdämmerung. I like a good musical - I embarrass my family by singing along to The Sound of Music. But Gilbert and Sullivan falls between the two, and it's something I've always meant to get around to, but never quite managed it. Until this week, when I saw the Watermill's production of The Gondoliers. Now you might think that getting G&S reviewed by someone who knows nothing about it is a bad idea - I'd reply that I come at it with a mind free of preconceptions!
It's directed by John Doyle, who also directed the Watermill's marvellous production of Carmen (which you can see again this year, briefly), and many other Watermill productions for actor-musicians. The cast of eight took us from Venice to Chicago (Little Italy) to London (Little Venice) and back to Venice. The story is set in the present day and is one of mistaken identity. At the heart of it are the egregious Cacciatoro family from Chicago, with three great performances from Mike Afford as the father (sounding like Jimmy Durante), Karen Mann as the spaghetti-slurping momma, and Elizabeth Marsh as the daughter, a tigress with impossibly long legs. The rest of the cast were equally good as actors and musicians - there were no weak links.
As a piece of musical theatre, it was brilliant, and the Watermill must be on a winner here. If you're not a G&S fan, just enjoy it for what it is; if you are, you may not approve, but you'll want to see it anyway. (The knowing laughs from the audience suggested quite a few G&S fans - and they loved it.)
The great thing about John Doyle's productions is the enormous energy and fun that exudes from the characters (the men were dripping with sweat by the end - women, of course, don't sweat, they glow). In the programme, Doyle says "This piece is the very antithesis of what we aim to do in our production of Carmen." Well, maybe. But you can see the same raw energy and excitement in both, and at the end you leave exhilarated and breathless. I can't wait for his next production.