Inebriated gondoliers vying for the throne of Barataria will take over the Hirsch Theater at Jerusalem’s Beit Shmuel starting December 26, with the next Gilbert and Sullivan production from the Encore Educational Theater Company.
The Gondoliers is the troupe’s 11th annual production and supposedly a favorite of England’s royal family, which was treated to its own command performance at Windsor Castle in 1891 during Queen Victoria’s reign.
A century-plus later, about 100 actors, orchestra members, production staff, makeup artists and costumers are working together to produce six days of performances, directed by Jerusalemite Robert Binder with musical direction by Paul Salter, choreography by Judy Brown and set design by Roxanne Goodkin-Levy.
“What’s remarkable about Encore is that it’s community theater of volunteers with a common purpose of producing a show to the best of our ability,” said Binder. “We’ve created a community of people who devote tremendous time and effort and talent to producing a show.”
Each production takes “hundreds of hours” to put together, said Binder, who commented that community theater in English is often about “creating that feeling of ‘back home’ while living in a place where many often never feel like ‘real Israelis.'”
That, and looking for some recognition from the audience, which is often made up mostly of fellow ex-pats plus a solid 15 percent or so who come from a non-English speaking background, added Binder.
“Our shows are an outlet from the tensions of everyday life,” he said. “It’s something to go out and enjoy, and see another side of life.”