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New take on Gilbert & Sullivan’s ‘The Gondoliers’ at Sierra Madre Playhouse

DW McCann (l.), Jenna Augen, November Christine, Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper.
DW McCann (l.), Jenna Augen, November Christine, Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper.
Alsion Eliel Kalmus

A new take on Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Gondoliers” at Sierra Madre Playhouse opens at Sierra Madre Playhouse on Friday, May 16, 2014. Adapted and directed by Alsion Eliel Kalmus with musical direction by Leonardo Sciolis, choreography by Angela Nicholas the show is produced by Ward Calaway and Christine Soldate for Sierra Madre Playhouse.

In the original version of “The Gondoliers” (presented by the Savoy Opera in 1889), Marco and Giuseppe, the boatmen of the title, marry the lovely Tessa and Gianetta. The honeymoon is interrupted when it is revealed that one of the two men is the rightful King of Barataria and must ascend the throne and take the beautiful Casilda, to whom he was wed in infancy, as his queen---which means that one of the two wives will be out of luck. It is not certain at the outset, however, which of the two men is the true monarch. In the meantime, both men rule jointly, disrupting things with their egalitarian style. Without revealing specifics, there will be an ultimate happy ending, with all things turning out as they should.

Kalmus’ new adaptation of “The Gondoliers” re-sets the action to the U.K. in 1952. A company of Savoyards plans a production of “The Gondoliers” in Brighton as part of the festivities surrounding the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. They have to work while the general populace is having fun, despite rainy English weather. Missing props, sets and costumes just two days before opening inject enough randomness into the proceedings that would make “Noises Off” seem like a quiet stroll in the garden. Hilarity ensues. So do the glorious music and lyrics of Gilbert & Sullivan, remaining faithfully true to the original.

The cast includes (in alphabetical order) Maegan Alexandria, Jenna Augen, Beatrice Barrio-Buchman, Jeff Bratz, MarLee Candell, November Christine, Karim Coleman, Elyse Cook, Matt Damone, Mickey De Lara, Ariel Downs, Sarah Fazeli, Aaron Guest, James Jaegar, Brooke Johnson, Randy Wade Kelley, John King, Kara Masek, DW McCann, Christian McClure, Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper, Olivia O’Neill, Kenn Schmidt, Steven Silvers, John Szura, Leslie Thompson, Sunil Vernekar, Joy Weiser and Jessie Withers.

“The Gondoliers” performs 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday through June 21. The Gala Opening Night performance on Friday, May 16 will be followed by a Champagne reception and light buffet. Admission is $28, $25 seniors (65+), $18 youth (13-21) $18 and $12 children 12 and under. Call (626) 355-4318 or visit

Sierra Madre Playhouse is located at 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd. in Sierra Madre. Ample free parking is available behind the theater.

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