1930s, 1940s and 1950s were the golden periods of Goan contribution to
stage performances, classical, jazz and blues music in Pakistan. The
musicals and operas produced by talented Goans of that time were of a very
high standard - world class! These included the W.G. Gilbert (Writer) and
Arthur Sullivan (Composer) Musicals - the Mikado, with music by J. Vincent
Lobo and directed by Teresa D'Abreo; the Gondoliers, with music by Charlie
Lobo; and Trial by Jury, Pirates of Penzance, music by Prof. Terrence
D'Souza; Iolanthe and the HMS Pinafore.
All of these famed Savoy operas were held at the KGA Hall, which also
boasted of having one of Karachi's largest all-wooden floors for ball-room
dancing. The imposing building, designed by Moses Somake, was completed in
1888 at a cost of Rs. 14,013 (which included the price of the land). Later
during the opening ceremony held on Easter Sunday, a 50-piece orchestra
conducted by Arthur J. Fernandes enchanted the large gathering of the
representatives of the city.
"1936 was in many ways an important year for the community. Not only
was the name of the Association changed to the KGA (Karachi Goan
Association), the year also marked its Golden Jubilee. What better way to
celebrate this important anniversary than by staging one of the most
delightful of the Gilbert and Sullivan Savoy Operas - The Gondoliers! A
distinguished audience which included the governor of Sindh, Sir Lancelot
Graham and Lady Graham, attended. In 1941, after nine months of grueling
practice, the members staged another Gilbert and Sullivan opera - The
Pirates of Penzance. On opening night, the governor of Sindh Sir Hugh Dow
and Lady Dow attended along with the entire Sind cabinet. There was a
standing ovation when the final curtain came down..." (A Fiesta of
Entertainment - Karachi Megacity of our Times by Hamida Khuhro and Anwer
Here is the cast of The Gondoliers (1939) - Ivo D'Souza (The Duke of
Plaza-Toro), Ester Menezes (The Duchess of Plaza-Toro), Doris Noronha (the
Daughter), Dominic Soares (Luiz, the attendant), Cyril de Souza (Grand
Inquisitor), the Venetian Gondoliers: Joe Soares (Marco Palmieri), Walter
Rodrigues (Giuseppe Palmieri), Edward Vaz (Antonio), Felix D'Silva
(Francesco), R.C. Fernandes (Giorgio) and Vigilius Mascarenhas (Annibale).
The Contadine included, Winnie Lobo (Gianetta), Eugene de Souza (Tessa),
Dorothy Nazareth (Fiametta), Madge Pinto (Vittoria) and Mary D'Silva (Giulia).
Agnes Ferro played Inez (the King's Foster Mother).
The Chorus of Gondoliers: Messrs. A.R. da Costa, H.A. D'Souza, Leo Falcao,
E.R. Fernandez, M.C. Fernandes, P.C. Fernandez, O.J. Fonseca, S.M. Gomes,
A. Mascarenhas, Eric Mendonca, J.F. Moniz, J.S. Oliveira, Geo Pereira, P.F.
Pinto, V.E. Raymond and Val Rodrigues. And the Chorus of Contadine
included Misses Bertha Braganza, Theresa Braganza, Isabel Caldeira, Doreen
Castellino, Gwen D'Abreo, Bridget Dias, Cicely D'Silva, Angell de Souza,
Ethel de Souza, Sylvia Fernandez, Georgina Fonseca, Matilda Lobo, May
Lobo, Josephine Nazareth, Joyce Noronha, Hilda Pereira, Betty Rodrigues,
Ivy Rodrigues and Phyllis Rodrigues.
On the other hand, the St. Patrick's Dramatics Society (SPDS) under the
direction of the late Fr. Tony Lobo, produced such wonderful plays as A
Man for All Seasons, Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians, The Mousetrap,
The Happiest Days of our Lives, Dry Rot, House on the Lake and Cinderella
- a tradition which carries on to this day at St. Pat's but more
suggestive of its glorious past at the Karachi Grammar School (Primary),
thanks to headmistress Norma Fernandes (now retired), who acted in some of
the SPDS plays in the early/late 50s.
Later in the mid-70s, Pakistan also had the unique distinction of having
produced the world's most recognized musical 'Jesus Christ Superstar' in
Karachi with Bobby Fredrick in the lead role, Victoria de Souza as Mary
Magdalene and the brilliant Arthur Turner as Judas. Macbeth, a satire, was
another blockbuster stage production in 1976 directed by Walter D'Souza
and with Clare Braganza in the lead role of Lady Macbeth. I had a small
role in that play, that of Banquo...