Tiffany King is Casilda and Dann Wilhelm is Luiz in Fraser Valley Stage's production of The Gondoliers. (Rick MacDonald photo)

Tiffany King is Casilda and Dann Wilhelm is Luiz in Fraser Valley Stage's production of The Gondoliers. (Rick MacDonald photo)

Fraser Valley Stage presents The Gondoliers

Gilbert and Sullivan production opens Feb. 28 in Abbotsford

Fraser Valley Stage will represent Canada at the 25th International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival this August with The Gondoliers, and local audiences will get the first peek at this show, which opens Feb. 28.

The show runs through March 3 at the Abbotsford Arts Centre, 2329 Crescent Way.

“It’s a love story, complete with humour, intrigue and mistaken identity,” said co-producer Margaret Kennedy.

Add to this singing, dancing and political satire and this period piece is live local theatre at its best.

“It’s a first for Abbotsford. It hasn’t been done before,” Kennedy added.

The unlikely pairing of Gilbert and Sullivan began in the 1870s, when this dynamic duo revolutionized musical theatre in England, creating a series of witty, melodic operettas that set a new standard for live theatre. Sullivan’s music sparkled with fresh melody and Gilbert’s librettos blended silliness and satire in settings that ranged from pure fantasy to the utterly unrealistic.

They created 14 comic operettas, The Gondoliers being their 12th.

So successful, it was a command performance before Queen Victoria and the royal family at Windsor Castle in 1891, the first G&S performance to be so honoured.

The story is of two charming Venetian gondoliers, Giuseppe and Marco, who, due to an error of identity as boys, learn that one of them is the heir to the throne.

Matters get complicated when the Duke and Duchess reveal that their beautiful daughter, Casilda, was married to this future king as an infant. But Giuseppe and Marco are both newly married, hence the dilemma.

Audiences will love this show, added Kennedy.

“It’s a little piece of Venice Italy. There’s romance and a lot of comedy; it’s what G&S are famous for.”

The cast of more than 30 – with lavish costumes, sets and dance scenes – will take the audience back to the 1700s, as professionally trained dancers intertwine their magic throughout the show.

“The fast-paced footwork encompasses the entire set, which in itself is a masterpiece,” Kennedy said. “The opening scene will astonish the audience.”

Several professionally trained singers are also new to FVS and “their voices are going to blow the audience away,” she said.

The show will hit the road in August, travelling to Harrogate, UK to compete against troupes from around the world at the 25th International G&S Festival. To date, The Gondoliers is the hottest selling ticket for the festival.

“We’re one of only two Canadian groups that have performed (there) over the years,” added Kennedy. “We’re proud to be representing Abbotsford and Canada.”

Show times in Abbotsford are 7 p.m., with a Saturday matinee at 1:30 p.m

Tickets are $25 ($15 students under 18) and are available online at fraservalleystage.com, Prospera Credit Union (West Oaks branch) and Tourism Abbotsford on Sumas Way. For details, call 604-302-1235.

Abbotsford News