Director Grant Ceffalo believes The Gondoliers is underrated as a light opera.
"It's so rarely produced," he said. "Our production is the first one in the Tri-Cities, despite many critics considering it the best Gilbert and Sullivan composition musically, and very funny."
The Richland Light Opera's production opens March 4 in the auditorium at Hanford High School in Richland.
When Ceffalo says this musical is funny, he isn't kidding.
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It's about a couple of carefree Venetian gondolier brothers, Giuseppe and Marco, who are about to marry their sweethearts. But the wedding is interrupted by the Duke and Duchess of Plaza-Toro who reveal to the brothers a secret.
Turns out one of them is really the king of Barataria, a fictional republic island. The infant future king was sent off to Venice for safety reasons and placed in the care of a gondolier, with an infant son of his own, who never told anyone, including the boys when they grew older. And, the secret died with the father before the truth was revealed to the sons.
And since no one knows which young man is the true king, they return to Barataria to fulfill rule together, leaving their brides behind. All comes to a head when the true king is identified. But if you want to find out how that happens, you'll have to catch the show.
Ceffalo plans to lean heavy on the comedic value of The Gondoliers and he has just the cast to do it, he says.
"My main goal during production is to make sure the cast are having a great time," he said. "Because I am convinced that it will come across to the audience who also will have a great time."
Lead characters of Giuseppe and Marco are portrayed by Sam Purvine and Jairo Maldonaldo. Chrissy Maldonaldo portrays Tessa, one of the brides, and Molly Holleran plays Gianetta, the other bride.
The Duke and Duchess of Plaza-Toro are portrayed by Mark Barton and Laurel Adams with Julie Heegel as Casilda, Eric Eberle as Luiz and Sergio Fossa as Don Alhambra Del Bolero.
Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for senior citizens and $10 for students and are available at www.rloc.org or call 591-2584.
The Gondoliers is definitely a musical suitable for the entire family, Ceffalo said.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org