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‘Patience; or, Bunthorne’s Bride’ Brings Aesthetic Satire to Agassiz

By Kyle G. Sargent, Contributing Writer

This week, from Nov. 8 to Nov. 10, the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club will present their fall production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera “Patience; or, Bunthorne’s Bride.” “Patience,” a biting satire of overly aestheticized art and artists in late-19th century England, tells the story of two buffoonish poets Bunthorne (Janiah C. Lockett ’20) and Grosvenor (Ross Simmons ’21) in their bumbling attempts to win the affections of the plain milkmaid Patience (Sydney K. Penny ’22).

With nine performances in a little over a week, along with half a semester’s worth of preparation, taking on the lead was no small commitment for Penny. “It’s definitely a lot to juggle,” Penny said. Fortunately, Penny has prior experience. “Doing an operetta is a very different style of singing than what you would think of as a typical musical,” Penny said. “I started classically training my sophomore year in high school.”

Lockett plays Bunthorne, a self-professed aesthete and a pretentious, fake poet. Lockett, an English concentrator, noted some ironic parallels between the 19th century aesthetic movement in England and her experiences studying at Harvard.“If we’re going to bring this into Harvard terms, Grosvenor is the section kid, and I’m the person who didn’t do the reading but can pretend like I did it really well,” she said.

Jarod Stone ’21, who is the music director for “Patience” and an experienced conductor, was particularly excited about the pieces in the operetta. “Where Sullivan’s genius really comes out is where he uses the music to augment the satire,” Stone said. “It’s just such melodrama.”

Director Abraham Joyner-Meyers ’21 has been working on “Patience” since the spring semester, preparing his directorial vision and managing auditions, casting, and rehearsals. While the show is only just beginning, Joyner-Meyers is feeling relaxed. “Most of my work ends on Friday [Nov. 2],” he said. He’ll watch the upcoming productions, take notes and make changes if necessary. “I’ve been joking that in some ways that’s my payment,” he added.

“Patience” will run this coming week at the Agassiz Theater: Nov. 8, Nov. 9, Nov. 10 at 8 p.m., and Nov. 10, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m.

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