In Ellsworth, Maine
Some people “from away” have trouble imagining what we in Down East Maine possibly could do during cold and snowy winter evenings; some don’t have that trouble – they imagine us shivering around wood stoves in dark rooms. These people apparently are not aware of the rich tradition here of community art and education.
This week’s Hancock County newspaper, The Ellsworth American, lists in small type two pages of area events, ranging from a lecture on Snowy Owl migration; to classical and popular music; to art workshops; to community theater presentations of contemporary authors, Shakespeare, and Gilbert and Sullivan, plus much more. The quality of many of these presentations often is extraordinary. For example, see the December 14 Post on The Bagaduce Chorale, below.
We attended a particularly robust production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience yesterday afternoon/evening at Ellsworth’s Grand Theater; the performance will be repeated next Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We recommend it . Some may be tempted to take a libretto – this is Gilbert and Sullivan, after all, where the audience is machine-gunned by clever words. But, in good productions such as this, reading the words means missing some of the over-the-top actions and expressions of the players.
Patience is a zesty, sometimes hilarious, 19th Century operetta (also called Bunthorne’s Bride) that eviscerates the false poets and foppish aesthetes of the Victorian era – and, if you listen closely, even those of today. This is the 40th annual production of the authors' works by The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Maine.
Most of the Society players have significant experience, but also have “day jobs” or are retired. For example, the plastic-faced Roland Dube masterfully plays Reginald Bunthorne, the “fleshy” and conniving “poet” at the center of Patience. Mr. Dube has been playing a wide variety of community theatre for 33 years, and also is a mathematics teacher in a Bangor elementary school.
The attractive Molly Abrams delivers a wonderful Patience, the sought-after but “lowly” milkmaid. Ms. Abrams is a classically trained bel canto who recently graduated from the University of Maine at Orono; she’s already made a number of significant appearances in this country and Europe and, judging by her beautiful voice, has a bright future.
There also are cast members who have retired from their day jobs, but have never retired from the music world. For example, neighbor David Porter, who plays one of the maiden-seeking Dragoons in Patience, was a professor at the University of Georgia (as was his singing wife, Jean); David also gives community lectures on mushrooms and other fungi.
We can’t wait for next year’s production by The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Maine (which plays primarily in Hancock County): The Pirates of Penzance.
For the wonderful cast of Patience and those of you who are Gilbert and Sullivan devotees, below is a link to images of many of the scenes in Patience, which we recommend be played in Slideshow mode. Here's the link:
Barbara and Dick