So, NYGASP’s production of Patience, Gilbert & Sullivan’s second-longest running operetta of their time (behind The Mikado and ahead of H.M.S. Pinafore!), just closed Sunday after four fantastic performances at the Symphony Space. We had an incredible write-up in the New York Times, and I have to admit that it was gratifying for that venerable paper to recognize NYGASP’s efforts (and those of her fearless leader, Albert Bergeret, and her individual players) to preserve Gilbert & Sullivan’s legacy and ensure its future.
I didn’t know Patience before my first engagement as Lady Angela with NYGASP in 2012 — but now I can’t imagine how I ever lived without it! Gilbert’s creation of the character of Bunthorne, in particular, is genius. In my opinion, it’s some of his best work. And while Patience may not have some of the catchiest Sullivan tunes, I think he turned out some really beautiful melodies – “Love is a plaintive song” and the sextet in the Act I Finale (“I hear the soft note”) come immediately to mind. This parody of the 19th century Aesthetic movement is really a timeless masterpiece. And I’m so pleased to have had the chance to have had a proper run (four whole performances! as opposed to our one in 2012, which felt like a dress rehearsal – a great dress rehearsal, but was a bit of a nail-biter for the whole cast). This time around, we had the opportunity for, oh, I don’t know, character development. (What??? I KNOW.) Our formidable AD, David Auxier (a very gifted performer, too), gave thoughtful notes to really help us bring sincerity to the silliness.
I wish we could take Patience on the road, but we would definitely have to offer the audiences a glossary, as there’s quite a bit of flowery language (about indigestion, no less – hilarious!), and since it’s a relatively “unknown” work, it’s harder to sell than the Big Three (Pirates, Mikado and Pinafore). The cast would relish the opportunity to become as familiar with our Patience roles as we are with, say, those in the Big Three. (If you missed it, here‘s a link to our video preview — I meant to post it long before we opened, and somehow failed to publish that post. Oy.) NYGASP’s is a labor of love, and I for one am grateful that there is still one professional company in the U.S. dedicated solely to the works of Gilbert & Sullivan, (though we certainly have the talent to do any other number of things – and to do them well, too! – we have great opera singers, musical theater divas, dancers, brass players, drag queens, ukulele-ists… I’m beyond thrilled to share the stage and call “friend” this brilliant and eclectic bunch!), struggling and striving to sustain and relevate (that’s my new verb for “keep relevant”) the G&S canon. The Players play on, because we simply cannot stop.
“I hear the soft note of the echoing voice of an old, old love long dead.
It whispers my sorrowing heart “Rejoice” as the last sad tear is shed.
The pain that is all but a pleasure will change for the pleasure that’s all but pain,
And never, oh never, our hearts shall range from that old, old love again.”
We are old souls, indeed, and shall never range from our old, old love. (For many, our first love.) I hope you’ll check out NYGASP’s touring schedule here, and be sure to catch them/us in a city near you! I’ll be in Idaho in February and Denver in March for run-outs of Pirates, but you shouldn’t miss my compatriots in Pinafore if it comes to your hometown. It’s a treat for the whole family!