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THE UPDATES

RICHARD BLIGHT: A couple of years ago Cambridge University G&S produced an "updated" Patience. The female chorus were initially Aesthetic Maidens but in the second act became hippy laid back chicks to match Grosvenor's hippy attire. The dragoons modelled themselves on the Beatles' Sgt Pepper costumes.

Changed lyrics included Grosvenor's "whippet and riding crop, straight to the betting shop, straight to the point young man" and the ladies' "We're Marks & Sparks young girls, we're Country Life young girls...". Marks & Sparks (aka Marks & Spencer) is a high street store and Country Life is a magazine about... well... country life, I guess.

RALPH McPHAIL: One of the most thorough updates of Patience was given at Fort Dix, New Jersey (of all places!) during the Viet Nam war (about 1968):
Special Services'
Entertainment Division
presents
The World Premiere
of
A New Pop Rock Musical
DORIS de LAY
or
A PIECE OF THE ACTION

Adapted from Gilbert & Sullivan's "Patience"
Book by Howard Richardson and Elwyn Dearborn
Lyrics by Howard Richardson

Characters (according to the program) included Anne Gina, Gloria Mundy, Suzy Q, Auntie Climax, Doris de Lay, Sergeant, Corporal, SP.4 Banderrile, Wee Willie, Cock Robin, and Astrologer.

Some of the musical numbers (from the program):

1. Psychedelic mod chicks we
3. The soldiers at Fort Dix
4. This is our current phantasy
8. Would you like to vibrate?
8a. Though to be your chick would very selfish be
9. Let's get zonked out of our gourds (Act I Finale)

10. There's one thing all women long for
12. Turn your head in our direction
13. A magnet hung in a ten cents store
16. The politics of ecstasy
17. If Gloria I make out with (Quintet)
18. When I walk down the street
19. I'm an American Legion young man
20. Gloria does prefer a short gent (Finale of Act II)

And a quarter century later, the Poynton G&S Society presented Patience "Adapted for the Flower Power Era by Richard Huggett" (in October of 1994). I read about that on SavoyNet.

SARAH MANKOWSKI:

"THE HEALTH SPA"

Jane and her friends need to shed a few pounds. And that's an understatement. They absolutely worship their instructor at the spa, Reg. Reg preaches a New Age approach, meditation and a strictly vegetarian diet he's always eager to share his salad recipes, garnished with edible flowers.

Since meeting Reg, the women have completely forgotten about their husbands, who are all officers stationed at the nearby army base. Dare I suggest that these patriotic gentlemen could stand to shed a few pounds themselves?

While Jane and friends would cheerfully forget their wedding vows, in exchange for some quality time alone with Reg, he's only interested in Patience, the pretty young receptionist. Patience is a sweet, small town girl, with small-town values. She's not interested. Besides, she can never understand what he's talking about.

Then, the new weight trainer, Archie, shows up. I doubt that I need to describe Archie. You've probably seen him on television, demonstrating exercise equipment. Suffice to say, every muscle is perfectly toned.

Archie and Patience were childhood sweethearts and they're still in love. But Patience knows that he's destined for greater things he might host his own television show, someday. She would only hold him back. That would be selfish.

Now, I'm not exactly sure why Reg decides to raffle himself off, or why Patience intervenes, but I clearly see the ending.

Those slightly overweight husbands are all straddling exercise equipment, eating tofu, and trying to demonstrate how enlightened they've become.

It could happen.

PHILIP NOLEN: How about this: Get an all black cast together. The maidens are enamored of inner city poseur Bunthorne, who carries a gun and deals drugs, though he secretly longs for a financially secure suburban life. The Dragoons are wealthy black businessmen who are frustrated by their girlfriends' infatuation with the mystique of gang subculture.

Just think of it: All Bunthorne's patter songs reorchestrated into rap! The political controversy alone might sell tickets, and what is more, the attending audience might be rather nonwhite, which is anything but a bad thing for the theatre in general and Gilbert & Sullivan in particular.

DANIEL KRAVETZ: Tell you what, Philip. You get an all black cast together to do Patience.

After considering a traditional production, try transforming the two poets into rappers of different styles and the dragoons into some form of African American elite group. Then, tell the cast that because of their race, the story should naturally call for them to be involved with guns and drugs. See how far you get. I'd be the first to protest.

SAMUEL M. SILVERS: Hey, wait a minute Dan What if Bunthorne and Grosvenor were rappers into social responsibility (one, of course, of a more Martin Luther King kind and the other of a more Flip Wilson kind). The dragoons would be black panthers. The whole thing would be set in the 60's and the costumes would be tie-dyed.

In this version, the militarist dragoon guards would realize that militarism is useless as a tool for social change, and would then become tie died and aesthetic.

All right. Just kidding.

THE UNNECESSARY UPDATE

STEVE SULLIVAN: The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company decided that one verse was not enough for "The Soldiers of our Queen". So we added the following second verse in our 1990 performance of Patience:

The soldiers of our Queen
Are doughty strong and fearless;
For Military Spleen
We're reckoned to be peerless.
From danger we don't shrink
And here's are main attraction;
We do before we think
For we are men of action!
We do before we think
For we are men of action!

RICHARD BLIGHT: Would it not have been easier to use the actual (cut) second verse to this one?

FRASER CHARLTON: Quite nice verses, but why not simply restore one of Gilbert's? Feeling that this song is too short for something so good, in the last production of Patience that I did, we added verse 2 of the original version when the men were 21st Hussars (and the poets were clergy). Although it now doesn't have the Mars/Venus symmetry of the original, it's quite usable and is the genuine article.

United as a clan,
We have arranged between us
To introduce this plan
Within the courts of Venus:
With one emotion stirred
Beneath our belts of leather
The Colonel gives the word
And all propose together!

Using this verse necessitates a change in the dialogue earlier on. As it is now apparent that the men intend to propose, rather than have proposed, we changed Patience's line "But you were all engaged to them a year ago" to "But you were all practically engaged to them...".

Well worth doing; it's a wonderful song.

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