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A Classic Revived

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The last of Gilbert & Sullivan’s classic works and their antepenultimate collaboration, “The Gondoliers” was initially received as among their best.

The piece has since fallen in favor well behind “The Pirates of Penzance,” “H.M.S. Pinafore” and even “The Mikado.” So the opportunity to see it performed, particularly under the auspices of director Marilyn Anderson’s fine Moorpark College troupe, is welcome.

The show begins in Venice, where gondoliers Giuseppe and Marco Palmieri are the town’s two most eligible bachelors. The local women are so uniformly desirable that the two men choose mates Gianetta (Elizabeth Ann Bowes) and Tessa (Jeri Ursetti or Amy Wood) while blindfolded.

Soon after their joint marriage, it’s learned that Giuseppe (Tony Gardner) and Marco (David Newton) were secretly transported from strife-ridden Barataria as infants, and one of them is heir to the reclaimed throne.

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The Duke of Plaza-Toro (Andrew Krigel), his wife (Linda Smith or Carmen Recker) and their toothsome daughter, Casilda (Karina Valdez), are so financially strapped that their retinue is down to one drummer (Eric Sheeler). Casilda learns from the former Grand Inquisitor (Gabriel Vega) that, as an infant, she was promised to marry the future king, which pleases her parents but threatens to ruin her secret romance with the drummer.

The performances are funny or lovely when appropriate, the sets (by Paulette Cox) and costumes elegant. The sheer size of the cast--as many as 30 onstage plus an orchestra under the direction of Darryl Archibald--makes some of the choral singing hard to understand. A synopsis is provided on the program and worth a quick scan.

* “The Gondoliers” concludes this weekend at Moorpark College Performing Arts Center, 7075 Campus Road, Moorpark. Performances are at 7:30 tonight; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets tonight are $5; admission for all other shows is $10, general; $8, students and seniors. For information, call (805) 378-1485.

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Holocaust Drama at Cal Lutheran: “A Shayna Maidel” is the story of Lusia Pechenik (Laura Shigemitsu), a young Polish Jew who travels to New York at the end of World War II to be reunited with her sister Rose (Angela Claros) and father (Stu Levin), who escaped earlier in the war. Lusia dreams of her mother (Jennifer Bolieu) and friends Duvid (Anthony Zayas) and Hanna (Roberta Mills), none of whom escaped the Nazis.

Barbara Lebow’s drama, performed at Cal Lutheran University under the direction of Kevin P. Kern, is seldom heavy-handed, is well-performed and includes one brief scene involving Rose that--in terms of writing, direction and acting--is more compelling than many full-length plays.

* “A Shayna Maidel” continues in repertory with “The Heidi Chronicles” at Cal Lutheran University’s Preus-Brandt Forum, 60 W. Olsen Road, Thousand Oaks. “A Shayna Maidel” continues at 9 p.m. Saturday and 8 p.m. Sunday. “The Heidi Chronicles” opens tonight. Performances are at 8 p.m. today, Friday, April 30 and May 1; at 6 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. May 3. Tickets to performances are $8. For reservations or information, call (805) 493-3415.

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Unexpected Suspects in Thousand Oaks: A sitting room, a murder and several shifty-eyed suspects--we’ve entered the genre pioneered by Agatha Christie. While not as well-known as “The Mousetrap,” Christie’s “The Unexpected Guest” shares many of its characteristics. Gothic Production’s rendition, directed by Toni Frisk Jourdan, should keep audiences guessing.

Michael Starkwedder (Roscoe Gaines) spots the corpse of Richard Warwick (an inert Charlie Jourdan), whom his widow, Laura (Maggie White), quickly admits to having killed. Michael helps her devise an alibi, and events proceed to a tidy conclusion.

* “The Unexpected Guest” concludes May 3 at the Arts Council Center, 482 Greenmeadow Road, Thousand Oaks. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sunday and 2 p.m. May 3. Tickets to all performances are $10; $8, seniors and students. For reservations or information, call (805) 381-2747.


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