Cast

When we last did this, the Dragoons were in camouflage, and the ladies were 'labour supporters', as their hero Bunthorne was labour. He was also played in a somewhat camp manner. When they transferred their affections to Grosvenor, a young yuppie, they became Tory supportes. At the end they could not make up their minds and so "joined the liberal democrats" in tweeds etc. The show was rewritten in places, although the plot was roughly adhered to and the music was not altered. Lady Jane had not a cello in Act two but a Stroh violin with a horn. It seemed to go down well with the audience at the time. In the past it has been known to have 30 lovesick maidens... Originally, Bunthorne and Grosvenor, the two main protagonists were modelled on Oscar Wilde and James O'Neill Whistler.

Plot

Twenty lovesick maidens are moping about, each despairingly in love with one Reginald Bunthorne, an aesthetic poet. As there is not the slightest chance that this love may be returned, they are all united in their common sympathy. Lady Jane, the typically Gilbertian contralto is their leader. Enter Patience, the village milkmaid, to inform them that the 35th Dragoon guards have just arrived and will be here shortly. The 20 maidens were previously in love with the dragoon guards, but as they are 'fleshly men with full habit' whatever that may mean, they have renounced them, and as the men arrive they leave to pay homage to Reginald. The dragoons opening song 'The Soldiers of the Queen' is followed by the Colonel's song explaining the heroism and strength it takes to become a heavy dragoon. Enter the Duke, a foppish gentleman, to bemoan his wealth. As this scene finishes, the girls and Bunthorne enter, the girls following Bunthorne as he writes poetry. The dragoons are gobsmacked at all this. Lady Jane suggests that they might like to change their uniforms into something more aesthetic - '...of a cobwebby grey velvet, with a tender bloom like cold gravy'. The men are astounded and march off in high displeasure.

Bunthorne, now left by himself confesses that the only reason he behaves in this fashion is that he has a 'morbid love of admiration'. Enter Patience. Bunthorne recites poetry to her, which, as she cannot understand it (not the only one), frightens her, so off go the airs and nonsense. He admits he does not like it either, but he loves her and wants her, and even offers to cut his hair for her.

Poor Patience; she regrets his love, and tells him that the only person she loved was her great-aunt... Consequently, as Bunthorne is not a relation, she cannot love him. Enter the Lady Angela, one of the 20 lovesick maidens; after a song with her, Patience declares that she will fall in love with somebody - anybody- before the day is out. Lo & behold, enter Archibald Grosvenor, another poet. They single to one another, asking if they each 'have a lover dangling after you'. At the end of the song, he enquires if she recognises him from her childhood. Her little playmate? Now Grosvenor is also loved by every woman he meets, and so as Patience is an ordinary milkmaid, he can love her, but she must not love him as it would deny other women his attentions. Tough on Patience.

Enter Reginald, together with his 20 maidens in tow. He announces that as Patience has rejected him he will raffle himself off. This gets an astonished gasp from the Dragoons who have just marched in to find their former fianc—es queueing up to buy raffle tickets. Just as the winner is to be drawn, Patience relents and says she will marry Bunthorne after all. This throws the 20 lovesick maidens into a tizzy but what is this? Enter Gosvenor and they transfer their allegiance to him, much to hos horror and Bunthorne's fury. End of Act One.

Act two opens with the Lady Jane singing, accompaning herslef on a 'cello, of all things. She remains faithful to Bunthorne even if the others have gone for Grosvenor. As she exits, Grosvenor and the girls appear and he sees them off by singing the song about the 'magnet & the Churn' in which he retails the sad story of a magnet that spurned objects of lowly iron and fell for a silver churn - 'by no endeavour can magnet ever attract a silver churn'. It is very effective; the girls get the message and drift away. Bunthorne meanwhile still has Lady Jane to contend with. Now enter the Duke, Colonel & Major; they have got themselves into aesthetic costunes in an effort to win back the girls - if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Ladies Saphir & Angela see them and say that if Grosvenor does not want them, then they will not refuse the officers. All exit. Enter Bunthorne and Grosvenor again. They have an argument and Grosvenor agrees to become a commonplace man, and Bunthorne a mildly happ one. Unfortunately this makes Bunthorne perfect and so Patience can love him without guilty feelings and she settles for Grosvenor. The three oficers take the ladies Jane, Angela & Saphir and the chorus pair off. Only Bunthorne remains wifeless, but that makes hin happy. End of opera.

This show has been fairly popular in the past and there is no tenor song in it! In 1981 that was the sole reason we did it in 1981 as we had no tenor. The one Sullivan wrote was cut early in the production run and yes, we have a copy.It only exists in the full score but has no vocal line apart from the first note; one would have to be made up.