theater review: MIT Gilbert and Sullivan...s ...Patience... Truly a Virtue Group Brings an Acquired Taste to a Modern Audience
By Elizabeth Zakszewski
Sir W.S. Gilbert and Sir Andrew Sullivan
Rob Morrison ’96, producer
Garry Zacheiss ’00
and Ky Lowenhaupt, directors
April 20–23, 2006
La Sala de Puerto Rico
The process of falling in love is a popular subject in all art forms. That’s why it has a tendency to become stale, and boy is it refreshing to see a show that pokes fun at this time-honored subject. “Patience,” put on by the MIT Gilbert and Sullivan Players this past weekend, follows a chorus of girls with a taste for artistic, aesthetic men and the men vying for their love. Throw in one girl named Patience (Roselin Osser G), who has very confused ideas of what love should be, and you’ve got a classic comedy of errors.
Directors Garry Zacheiss ’00 and Ky Lowenhaupt chose to set the play in a modern American high school, rather than the presumably English countryside the characters originally inhabited. This was an excellent choice because it made the play accessible to people like me who are not accustomed to Gilbert and Sullivan’s style of musical theatre from a century ago. By replacing the “aesthetics” with dark-clothed goths and the army regiment with football players, the characters’ motivations were more understandable.
The great casting really added to the telling of the story — Patience was nicely cute and naive, with very entertaining facial expressions, and Archibald (Armen P. Babikyan) personified the lovable narcissist. The football players (with Baz Lurhmann-like names of “Captain,” “Colonel,” and “Duke”) were also believable and fun, reminding us all of the friendly, goofy jocks we knew in high school. Even though some of the featured soloists in the women’s chorus weren’t powerful enough to carry their musical parts, their talented acting minimized the distraction.
The music, of course, was particularly Sullivan-y. Whether this is good or bad depends on how much you like his music: light, fluffy, and simplistically ornate, almost like Mozart. While I’m not generally a fan of this style, I was not disappointed to find some of the songs playing through my head after the show. The orchestra performed nicely, staying (mostly) in tune and together with the actors.
Apart from the sound, though, I found the show very visually appealing. The set, while simple in structure, was painted with meticulous detail, helping to keep me immersed in the world onstage. Likewise, the lighting changes enhanced the action in many scenes, adding to the situational humor or the semi-tragic pathos.
Overall, I found the show delightfully enjoyable — I laughed out loud numerous times, especially when Rob Morrison ’96 appeared wearing a “Sport Death” t-shirt (it’s a Senior Haus thing). Perhaps the biggest minus of the entire show was its ridiculously short run of one weekend, meaning you probably missed it. However, I’ve become inspired to recommend Gilbert and Sullivan Players shows to friends and family, and maybe even to you too.