The Blue Hill Troupe (BHT) started in 1924 in the tiny coastal village of Blue Hill, Maine. A group of friends and thespians were staging Gilbert & Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore”. Through difficult circumstances and treacherous weather, the actors and orchestra had to board a boat (yacht) to get to the theater. Allegedly, even the piano was battened down to make the performance.
The show must go on! And it did.
The following year they performed “The Mikado” with collected admissions donated to a hospital and a church — this was the birth of their tradition of performing for various charities.
It continues to this very day with people who dedicate their time and talent.
Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Patience or, Bunthorne’s Bride” is performing at El Teatro of El Museo del Barrio on the Upper East Side thru April 25th. This production is something to see for G&S fans, Blue Hill Troupe groupies, the next generation of performers and those who want to support the Jewish Home Lifecare organization.
Originally performed circa 1881 in England, “Patience…” tells a satirical tale of the aesthetic movement — the era’s military strength, pompous vanity, pretentiousness, ego, fads and art for arts sake.
The anguish of love-sick maidens, coupled with the duty of testosterone-driven military men, play the game of cat and mouse for the ultimate game of love and wedded bliss.
However, staging the original would be outdated with regards to references and innuendos beyond our current day vernacular. This production is placed in Oklahoma during the ‘50s with nods, kisses and winks to Miss America, the Beatniks, Martha Graham, Rogers and Hammerstein, Jackson Pollock, Chevrolet and even Carmen Miranda. Hilarious!
Humorously performed by a cast of over 40 singer/actors and insightfully directed by Gary Slavin, it is well worth traveling uptown and just a taxi ride away from The Great White Way.
What I enjoyed most about this production is that it gives a glimpse of what a musical looked, sounded and felt like in the ‘50s, before the age of technology where performers rely on two head mics hidden under a wig, amplifiers, recorded tracks and pyrotechnics. It is real and raw with a full orchestra and natural voices bouncing off the acoustic walls of a gorgeous theater.
Conducted by Zachary Schwartzman, the room is filled with horns, strings and timpani that subtly seduce your soul while the troupe tickles your funny bone and lifts the spirit as only a choir can do.
Nothing compares to a live performance, so put down the remote, turn off the cell phone and unplug all electronic devices. It’s open to the (Very Model of a Major) general public. That’s a hat tip and bow to Gilbert and Sullivan as well as BHT.
For show times and tickets visit: http://www.bht.org/patience.php
You should also visit El Museo del Barrio: http://www.elmuseo.org/visit/