The Lamplighters production of The Gondoliers, one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s famous comic operas, just closed after a triumphant tour around the Bay! The costuming was a collaborative effort between Miriam Lewis, an early graduate of Cañada fashion department’s Theater Costuming program, and professor Judy Jackson.

The Gondoliers, the twelfth of Gilbert and Sullivan’s 14 collaborations, premiered in December of 1889 and ran for 554 performances, closing in June of 1891. Set in Venice the story focuses on a pair of handsome gondoliers who suddenly become kings and must adjust to their new social status. In the process Gilbert brilliantly skewers issues of social equality and the class system.

The original gondoliers, Rutland Barrington and Courtice Pounds, 1889
The Lamplighters’ version of gondolier characters, Giuseppe and Marco, 2018 (Photo: Lamplighters Music Theater)



Costuming for the show was challenging for two reasons. First the original set of costumes created for Lamplighters back in the 1980s had to be supplemented with a number of new costumes. The new additions needed to blend seamlessly with the older creations. Second the costumes in the two acts are vastly different. In Act I the costumes are more folkloric, as would have been worn by average Venetians, while Act I features courtly costumes that are much more baroque and rococo.

Costumes from Act I (Photo: Lamplighters Music Theater)
Costumes from Act II (Photo: Lamplighters Music Theater)


San Jose Mercury News theater critic Sam Hurwitt had this to say about the show’s costumes:

Though the costumes by Judy Jackson and Miriam Lewis are bright and colorful in general, the ostentatious finery of the Plaza-Toro nobles when appearing at court is particularly fabulous.

(Photo: Lamplighters Music Theater)

Congratulations, Miriam and Judy!

Although this year’s run of The Gondoliers is over, The Lamplighters always have new productions in the works. For information about upcoming shows, visit their website.