You start by going to one of the nicest small cities west of the Mississippi or Mayberry with mountains, Sierra Madre, California. It is home to some excellent restaurants where one can enjoy a pre show dinner. Then you can take a short stroll over to the richly historic Sierra Madre Playhouse. It got its start almost 100 years ago as a movie theatre. By 1980 it had transformed to a delightful legitimate stage venue that also once served as a hangout for Eddie Van Halen. But since becoming a legitimate theatre in 1980 it has been home to dozens of superlative performances reaching well beyond its relatively diminutive physical sized. The Sierra Madre Playhouse has earned a reputation for presenting some of the best shows in Southern California. Currently that would be the Gilbert and Sullivan classic “The Gondoliers.” So add it all together; a thoroughly enjoyable town, one of several great restaurants and a spectacular show from the theatrical genius of Gilbert and Sullivan presented by one of the coolest and most historic community theatres in America and you have the perfect evening.
It is spring of 1953 and a young Elizabeth has been coronated Queen of England. Scary as this may be I actually remember the moment. The world focus is on royalty and two ordinary citizens, gondoliers actually, are deemed to be king. There is also a young lady who would be queen but there are problems, many problems that present the gist of the play. There is a happy ending and from opening act to close it is a steady stream of brilliant comedy and magnificent music.
The entire cast was simply superb and obviously well directed. But the stand outs include James Jaeger as the Duke of Plaza-Toro, November Christine as Gianetta, Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper as Marco and Dan “DW” McCann as Giuseppe. What the team delivers is about one and a half hours of hilarity and enchantment.
It is true that given size limitations this production of “The Gondoliers” doesn’t have a full orchestra but relies instead on one very well played piano with some audio track mostly for sound effects and many superb voices. And the set design is limited by Broadway standards. None of this, however, limits the immense talent on display nor the overall enjoyment of the show. Also very much unlike Broadway you won’t have to max out you credit card to enjoy it. Admission for “The Gondoliers” at the Sierra Madre Playhouse ranges from a low of only $12 for children under 12 to a maximum of only $28.00. The Sierra Madre Playhouse in located at: 87 W. Sierra Madre Boulevard, Sierra Madre, CA 91024. “The Gondoliers” runs from now through June 21, 2014. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 2:30 pm. Reservations are available by calling 626-355-4318 or on line at: www.sierramadreplayhouse.org. Go. You will thoroughly enjoy the experience.
Copyright 2014 Ron Irwin