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At Agassiz

By Gerald E. Bunker

Patience is not most distinguished either musically or lyrically among the works of the great Gilbert and Sullivan. But the Harvard G and S players have been able to over-ride with enthusiasm and charming verve the inadequacies and datedness of their material. On the whole, this spoof at Victorian artsycraftsiness comes off very well.

Perhaps the most compelling thing about the production is the unashamed good time that everyone connected seems to have. Not only is the singing surprisingly competent for an amateur group, but the subtle glances and repartee which are the life blood of Gilbert and Sullivan succeed wonderfully through the unabashed quality that suffuses the production.

Satirizing young maidens rapturous over the most bohemian and "aesthetic" of poets, the play doesn't seem ill at home in the Harvard community. Alison Keith is a real show-stopper as the aging, but still amorous devotee of the pseudo-poet. She has a real talent for comic gesture and routine with just the proper bit of stylization, and wondrous to say, she has a very fine voice. Elizabeth MacNeil, play the title role of Patience, a much-sought-after milkmaid, sings well and liltingly, but her acting seems the weakest among the principals. Perhaps this is just a touch of opening-night fever. Also, she could have been more attractively costumed. Merle Moses, Carol White and Nancy Ryan, among the "lovesick maidens," sing charmingly, dance when required, and smile at the proper moments.

Morgan Wheelock as Colonel of the Dragoon Guards, formerly affianced to the maidens who now long for the path of high art, run through the reams of usual fast-paced lyrics with great gusto and a fine baritone voice. And Thomas Myers is winning as the diffident duke who has joined the service to escape perpetual adulation.

Eric Martin as the "fleshy poet," "with a love for admiration," originally modelled after lilytoting Oscar Wilde--handles his focal part with humour and almost no difficulties, although he did not project as well as might be desired. John Bernard as the "idyllic poet," is absolutely perfect as actor and singer, as he transfers from Renaissance Apollo to a "common, ordinary fellow."

What is amazing about the show is not that the principals are good--this is expected--but that everyone in both choruses as well seems perfectly at ease on the stage and participates in the staccato by-play so central to this type of comedy. Both men's and women's choruses were superb musically and movement-wise with no trace of awkwardness.

Director Joan Mickelson seemed to have some trouble with the tiny Agassiz stage, and sometimes her routines border on the monotonous, but considering the grave problem of space, the blocking and direction is highly successful. Music Director Arthur Waldstein deserves large credit for the proper fast pace of the show and the amazing articulateness with which the songs are sung. However the overture is unbearably long, pompous, forced, and dull.

Eric Martin's setting was quite artful and appropriate for the small space, and lighting was competent if not over-imaginative.

Patience, then makes a great good time, and is a vastly endearing production. The Gilbert and Sullivan players have furthered their reputation for consistently clever and spirited performances of these sometimes so distant classics.

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