Starlight Children’s Theater brings laughter to Las Cruces

thumb9If you recall your giggles and guffaws the last time you saw a Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera, then you know what to expect when The Starlight Children’s Theatre Company of Las Cruces stages Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience.

Patience is a story of two wealthy poets, who take themselves very seriously and who both love the village milkmaid, unremarkably named Patience, almost as much as they cherish their own work. The satirically rich musical comedy sparkles with witty, exuberant music and sharp social commentary. It parodies our tendency to follow new fads, quickly discarding them when the next new fad arrives on the scene. This time, the fad is for lovesick maidens to swoon forlornly at any lily-toting, self-absorbed poet who shows his face in the village.

First performed in London in 1881, Patience is a satire on the late nineteenth century Aesthetic Movement, made notable by Oscar Wilde. The Aesthetics believed art should be beautiful but not necessarily useful. Aesthetic poets often carried lilies or sunflowers while reciting their poetry, reminiscent of Laugh In ’s Henry Gibson with his single flower and deadpan formality. They so rejected Victorian ideals of speech, fashion, and behavior, they were considered bizarre by polite society and became tempting targets for satirists.

Starlight’s director Ginger Scarbrough Andersen describes her excitement about this production. “When I first saw
Patience, I was enamored with the humorous characterizations and the wonderful songs. Although it is not well known today, the moment I saw it, I knew this was a show Las Cruces would love. The cast and the audience will have great fun laughing along with the plot and enjoying the memorable music. Its appeal is timeless.”

The Starlight Children’s Theatre Company is well known in Las Cruces for its high-quality productions of theatre classics. The company regularly produces shows written by Gilbert and Sullivan and Shakespeare. These time-tested classics represent some of the greatest works of theatre and are a fabulous way to introduce children to great literature. Starlight’s productions are modified for child actors and modern audiences by reducing the run-time, but they maintain the rich dialogue and most of the music from the original productions. Since Starlight’s primary
goal is to help children learn and grow, each child is given at least one line in every show. As all on-stage roles are played by children, this provides a wonderful way to promote literacy skills for the actors and to enrich the community.

All members of the staff and cast are asked to “rise to the occasion” to produce a truly memorable show in all its aspects — costumes, sets, acting, dialogue, and music. “You will be amazed,” says Andersen, “at what children from ages 6 to 17 can do when they are shown the way. We are often told our productions rival those of adults. Once you’ve seen a Starlight production, you’ll keep coming back for more.”

The Starlight Children’s Theatre Company will perform the musical comedy, Patience, six times: Friday, July 11, at 7 p.m., Saturday, July 12, at 1 and 7 p.m., Friday, July 18, at a children’s matinee at 10:30 a.m. and again at 7 p.m., and Saturday, July 19, at 7 p.m. All performances will be at the Atkinson Recital Hall at NMSU.

Tickets for the performances are $6. They are available at Spirit Winds at 2260 South Locust, at the door the day of the performance, and at HoldMyTicket.com, for which there is a service charge.