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Victorian-era entertainment still resonates today

The title character (Robin Steitz) and the fake poet (Rick DuPuy) who courts her in Victorian Lyric Opera Company’s operetta “Patience.” COURTESY PHOTOThe title character (Robin Steitz) and the fake poet (Rick DuPuy) who courts her in Victorian Lyric Opera Company’s “Patience.” COURTESY PHOTO  Gilbert and Sullivan originally intended their operetta “Patience” to lampoon the church. Concerned about possible backlash, they poked fun of poets and the Aesthetic Movement instead.

The mid-19-century movement believed in art for art’s sake and the pursuit of beauty and self-expression over the moral strictness of the Victorians, who, in turn, mocked the movement.

“‘Patience’ is about people pretending to be poets and people pretending to love poets, and a dairy maid, who can’t understand people’s attachment to poetry,” said Felicity Ann Brown, who is directing the Victorian Lyric Opera Company production of the operetta. “She’s never been in love, and doesn’t understand why people want to be.”

“Patience” doesn’t get performed often, she added, “because it’s hard to explain to audiences – the language is so poetic, and it makes fun of a movement people are not familiar with. But the music is beautiful.”

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Theater troupe with British flair offers play about retired opera singers

Duke Madalenna 4 copy QuartetAngela Cannon (left) and Peter Harrold (right) rehearse opera in British Players’ “Quartet.” COURTESY PHOTO  It’s probably not often a foreign embassy launches and, for a time, houses a theatrical group. But such were the origins of The British Players, a community theater that started at the British Embassy.

“There are a large number of British ex-pats here who were looking for a niche,” said Matthew Ratz, director of “Quartet,” the Players’ upcoming production. “But after 9/11, security considerations made it impossible to have open-attendance events.”

After moving to a few locations, The British Players settled at Kensington Town Hall.

The troupe stages several productions a year – a pantomime around Christmastime; a music-hall show; and a traditional play that could be a farce, comedy, drama, or murder mystery.

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