A taste of 1940s glamour is coming to Leeds as the latest production by Leeds Gilbert and Sullivan Society brings the sparkling world of post-war film making to The Carriageworks Theatre, with its two main stars from Middleton.
Patience was originally written about two rival poets to lampoon Oscar Wilde and Algernon Swinburne, both leading lights of the aesthetic movement in the 1880s. Leeds G&S Society is bringing this more up to date by pitching the rivalry between two 1940s matinee idols in a fictional film studio somewhere in England.
Playing the rivals Bunthorne and Grosvenor are Jason Weightman (29, from Headingley) and Scott Penn (27, from Middleton). Both joined the Society for their award-winning production last year of The Pirates of Penzance, with Jason playing a memorable Johnny Depp look-alike Pirate King, and Scott his faithful sidekick, Samuel. This year they go head-to-head as they battle it out for the love of the film’s leading lady, Patience.
Patience is played on alternate nights by Heather Greenwood (24, from Middleton) and Kate Rotheroe (26, from Hyde Park), both of whom are teachers. Neither is a stranger to The Carriageworks stage: Kate played Mabel in last year’s Pirates, whilst newcomer Heather has sung opera on various stages in Leeds for several years. She is also no stranger to the charms of the handsome Grosvenor, as she and Scott are engaged in real life!
The story opens at Castle Studios, where a film of Patience is being made. The chorus girls are madly in love with the studio’s leading man; all except its star actress, who couldn’t care less about him. She is too busy focusing on her lead role – the milkmaid, Patience – and is finding playing opposite the egocentric and narcissistic Reginald a bit of a trial. Tensions are heightened when a handsome friend from her past appears to play her other leading man, Archibald.
Meanwhile, the other male actors are becoming increasingly annoyed that their erstwhile fiancées in the chorus are so distracted by the leading man. Can they woo their ladies back? Will the stars find love? And will the film ever be finished?!
Presiding over the production are Artistic Director Anita Adams, and Musical Director Mike Williamson, whose high standards and attention to detail have garnered the Society five Leeds Civic Arts Guild Best Musical awards over the last seven years. Of her decision to set Patience in the 1940s, Anita said:
“The post-war period was a really exciting one for the British Film Industry. They were trying to bring a bit of glamour and sparkle to a country that was tired and shabby after the war, and were churning out films at a tremendous rate. Our film company is enthusiastic, if a little chaotic, and the plot of Patience lends itself perfectly to this situation. Our show flicks between the film and backstage, and life imitates art in many ways”.
The Society, which was founded at St Silas Church, Hunslet in 1909 and celebrated its centenary in 2009, is going from strength to strength. Chair Janet Johnston puts this down to the wide age range of the membership:
“We’re incredibly lucky to have a large group of younger members who give our productions energy and vibrancy, balanced by the older, more experienced members who bring an understanding of the G&S shows and confidence on stage. We have people who are new in to the Society and others who are celebrating their 45th year with us this year. It’s this mix, combined with the talents of Mike and Anita, which means the quality of our productions is so high. Patience is going to be enormous fun, and I’d urge anyone who wants to experience excellent musical theatre to come along.”
Patience is at The Carriageworks Theatre from 7 – 14 March. There are three matinees, on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 at 2.30pm, and on Saturday 14 at 4.30pm. Tickets range from £8 – £17.50, with all children under 16 half price, and £2 off for the usual concessions. They are available from The Carriageworks Box Office on (0113) 224 3801.
This post was written by Rebecca Barwick using our Create an article for South Leeds Life page.