Historical adaptation of Patience is a likable piece, now on stage
Love is the purest and most unselfish emotion–or at least it tries to be in St. Anne’s Music and Drama Society’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan‘s Patience, currently playing at St. Anne’s Anglican Church.
Fortunately, romantic comedy ensues as St. Anne’s works to create a historically accurate production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s work. It’s an elaborate community show that is really very good.
Young Patience (Beth Armstrong) has never been in love. Faced by the women in town swooning over aesthetic poet Reginald Bunthorne (Philip Garde), who claims to love her, Patience attempts to figure out what ‘love’ is. Meanwhile, her old childhood friend–and possibly the only person Patience has ever loved– Archibold Grosvenor (Brian Dearden) has returned to town.
Note that this is the full show, not just a truncated version. There is a live orchestra accompanying the singers; the set by John Guy and Warren Hughes is a beautiful pastoral backdrop; and the costumes provided by Theatrix Costume House are elaborate.
The one downside to the experience is you have to accept that not every performer is pitch-perfect, something that is pretty evident in certain songs. This might be a deal-breaker for some. I can already hear the debate: why see a Gilbert and Sullivan show if the singing isn’t top-notch?
Well, first of all, just because everyone isn’t an incredible singer, doesn’t mean they aren’t fun to watch.
Second of all, some of the performers have fantastic voices. The entire female ensemble really knocked it out of the park.
Armstrong as Patience, for example, is incredible. Her voice is crystal clear. And she’s also hilarious, giving a sarcastic, cunning, but equally earnest characterization. A quiet scene-stealer, Armstrong shines in every scene she’s in. She makes the character feel modernized, without losing the scathing parody at the show’s heart.
Moreover, Armstrong and Dearden (who is also musically one of the strongest in the show) have adorable chemistry that makes their scenes a lot of fun. Playing a ‘perfect’ man who is god’s gift to humanity–much to his distress–Deardon’s Archibald is a perfect mix of genuine self-centredness and arrogance.
The opera focuses on the absurdity of aestheticism and has plenty of ridiculous physical comedy that highlights the actors’ other strengths. One song, where the Dragoon Guards (played by Jay Lambie, Sean Hutchins, and Marc Potvin) attempt to change their fashion and behaviour to woo the women, gives us a fun, ridiculous routine wherein they mimic overly emotional, absurd poses in equally absurd costuming.
What St. Anne’s Music and Drama Society accomplishes for what I’m guessing is a small budget, those moments of heart is where this opera shines. Patience works, and it’s good. Not perfect, maybe, but solid.
I liked it.
- Patience plays at St. Anne’s Anglican Church (270 Gladstone Ave).
- Shows run January 26-27th and February 1-2 at 2pm, and January 30-31st at 7:30pm.
- Tickets are $30 for adults, $25 for seniors and students; discounts available for groups of 6 or more on January 30th.
- Tickets can be purchase at the door prior to the performance (cash only) or online here.
- Venue is not accessible by wheelchair.Photo of Philip Garde as Bunthorne courtesy St. Anne’s Music and Drama Society