“Patience” with a 70's Twist

This spring, the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan Players and Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club are teaming up to produce a modern remake of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta, “Patience; or, Bunthorne’s Bride.” The original operetta is set in England and includes lovesick maidens and the petty British Dragoon Guards. The production’s re-imagining of the operetta takes place 100 years later on American shores, turning maidens into flower children and Dragoon Guards into brutalized, crippled marines returning from the Vietnam War.

With an impressive cast of 19, the operetta centers on the beautiful Patience (Claudia D. Oh ’17) and her search to determine the true meaning of love from the attempts of both the self-centered Reginald Bunthorne (Joseph S.H. Goodknight), and the flawless, widely-loved Archibald Grosvenor (Zachary Mallory) to court her.

The production stays true to the light and humorous tone of the Gilbert and Sullivan original. “There are many opportunities to poke fun… and we take advantage of that at every opportunity,” Goodknight says. “That is what I am most looking forward to—giving the people who come see the show some good laughs.”

The tension between the show’s comedic mood and the context of soldiers returning from war proved to be a creative challenge. “I attempted to add an undertone of tension and conflict to particular scenes while maintaining the overall light nature of the operetta,” movement director Talia K. Rothstein ’17 says. “I am excited to see how this contrast—which is also reflected in the set, the blocking and the music—plays out when all the elements of the show come together.”

For director Matthew W.G. Walker ’16, the operetta’s larger goal is to leave the audience thinking long after the curtains close. “I would love for the audience to leave with one or two questions and perhaps different ways of approaching or looking at those questions. For our production, this might include questions about the search for love and maintaining identity in a chaotic world.”

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