Patience

In early drafts of Patience, Gilbert originally wrote “The Soldiers of Our Queen” as a two verse song.  By the time of Patience’ Opening Night, however, Gilbert had rewritten the piece as a one verse song.

For our 1990 production of Patience, members of our company asked the Director, Zoe Kuester, if it might be possible to add a second verse, as it was such a delightful, but all too short song.  As Gilbert’s original second verse was not appropriate in context with the current first verse, Zoe invited the members of the company to write a new second verse.  Holly Windle did so and her new text was used in that production and in the company’s subsequent productions of Patience in 2002 and 2012.

Throughout the run of the 1990 production, Holly continued to write “second verses” to the song.  Unlike most of our alternate lyrics songs, rather than saving these for the show’s Last Gasp Cast Bash, Holly provided them to the men of the chorus, who in the Green Room, before almost every performance, would sing the verse to the rest of the company.

The version sung Opening Night …

The soldiers of our Queen
     Are just a trifle nervous;
Some look a little green
     And mutter, “Saints preserve us!”
For this is opening night,
     Portending joy or sorrow;
Let’s hope we get things right –
     Or better luck tomorrow!
Let’s hope we get things right –
     Or better luck tomorrow!

The versions sung before the performances that followed …

The soldiers of our Queen
     Have military muscle.
For shooting we are keen,
     And how we love a tussle!
In battle none so brave
     In strategy or combat.
Our banner high we wave:
     A rampant azure wombat!
Our banner high we wave:
     A rampant azure wombat!

The soldiers of our Queen
     Are very heavy eaters;
We dine in the canteen,
     And drink our beer in litres.
Raw meat we never scorn
     From sheep or pig or cattle,
But when we hear the horn
     We waddle off to battle!
But when we hear the horn
     We waddle off to battle!

The soldiers of our Queen
     Are selfish, vain, and stuffy;
At meals and in between,
     We quarrel and get huffy.
We often cheat at cards,
     Our tempers are appalling,
So when we joined the guards,
     We knew we’d found our calling!
So when we joined the guards,
     We knew we’d found our calling!

The soldiers of our Queen
     Like breaking in our horses;
With spur and rowel keen,
     We let them know what force is.
With women, too, we claim:
     Apply the reins and halter,
And when we have them tame,
     We bring them to the altar!
And when we have them tame,
     We bring them to the altar!

The soldiers of our Queen
     Are full of spit and polish.
Our boots are always clean;
     The foe we will demolish.
And so we sing this song
     To demonstrate our forces.
We’re bold and fierce and strong,
     Admired by our horses.
We’re bold and fierce and strong,
     Admired by our horses.

The soldiers of our Queen
     Spend too much time with horses;
With women we turn green
     And don’t know what our course is.
We’re nervous, awkward, scared,
     And apt to shy and sidle,
Completely unprepared
     To end up in a bridal.
Completely unprepared
     To end up in a bridal.

The soldiers of our Queen
     Are poor at golf and tennis;
At polo on the green
     Our riding is a menace.
And when we’re shooting grouse
     With gun or bow and arrow,
You’d best stay in the house,
     And offer up a prayer-O!
You’d best stay in the house,
     And offer up a prayer-O!

The soldiers of our Queen
     Are paragons of power;
We’re stalwart, brave, and clean;
     We make the foeman cower.
With women we’ve no peer,
     They love our manly chorus;
They tremble when we’re near
     Because they all adore us.
They tremble when we’re near
     Because they all adore us.

The soldiers of our Queen
     Are fond of blood and thunder;
Our regiment’s routine
     Is now the seventh wonder.
We fight and shoot and ride,
     And drink and swear like Hades,
Except when we’re beside
     Our mothers or our ladies.
Except when we’re beside
     Our mothers or our ladies.

The soldiers of our Queen
     Are dangerous and daring,
Competitive and keen,
     We revel in war-faring;
Off-duty it’s the same,
     Our skill needs no direction;
We win at every game
     Because we are perfection!
We win at every game
     Because we are perfection!

The soldiers of our Queen
     Are right to be conceited;
In battle we are keen,
     We’ve never been defeated.
In courtship, we are grand;
     We’re ardent, bold, and plucky,
And when we win her hand,
     The lady knows she’s lucky.
And when we win her hand,
     The lady knows she’s lucky.

The soldiers of our Queen
     Are not like normal people;
We love to make a scene
     (At church, we climb the steeple);
Our voices are too loud,
     We’ve lots of red corpuscles,
And we can draw a crowd
     Each time we flex our muscles.
And we can draw a crowd
     Each time we flex our muscles.

The soldiers of our Queen
     Are not in The Mikado.
No vase or jar or screen
     Can picture our bravado.
No wandering minstrel we
     Who loves some geisha cutie;
An English girl for me
     Great Britain, Home, and Duty!
An English girl for me
     Great Britain, Home, and Duty!

The soldiers of our Queen
     Are everywhere admired —
Our fingernails are clean;
     Our marching is inspired.
The ladies note our charms,
     And pledge their love eternal;
To them we give our arms,
     (By order of the Colonel).
To them we give our arms,
     (By order of the Colonel).

The soldiers of our Queen
     Drink pots of tea and coffee,
Ingest too much caffeine,
     And top it off with toffee!
Their diet is the thing
     Affects both work and slumber;
They’re jumpy when they sing –
     Just watch their opening number!
They’re jumpy when they sing –
     Just watch their opening number!

The soldiers of our Queen
     In social skills are lacking;
At parties they convene
     To concentrate on snacking.
With manners coarse and crude,
     They bluster, boast, and bellow,
And eat up all the food
     (Unless it’s veg. or jello)!
And eat up all the food
     (Unless it’s veg. or jello)!

The soldiers of our Queen
     Mix Perrier with their whisky;
All heedless of benzine,
     They soon are loud and frisky.
Outrageous, rowdy, rude
     (Don’t blame it on the water),
They’re brutish, base, and crude —
     Don’t let one near your daughter!
They’re brutish, base, and crude —
     Don’t let one near your daughter!

The soldiers of our Queen
     Could never be artistic,
But envy turns them green
     (Oh, aren’t they atavistic!).
Though Bunthorne they deride
     And think his verses funny,
It cannot be denied:
     The ladies all love Bunny!
It cannot be denied:
     The ladies all love Bunny!

The soldiers of our Queen
     Have no aesthetic feeling;
Each one’s a philistine,
     His bourgeois soul revealing.
It simply must be faced:
     They have no inner fire;
Their only mark of taste —
     The ladies they admire.
Their only mark of taste —
     The ladies they admire.

Others in the cast wrote alternate versions to this catchy tune as well.  The following three are by Waldyn Benbenek (who played Col. Calverley):

The soldiers of our Queen
     Sit tall up in the saddle.
Their eyes of gentle green
     Turn steely grey in battle.
All lessers fall before us
     When we’re a prize pursuing
Victorious in war as
     Glorious in wooing.
Victorious in war as
     Glorious in wooing.

The soldiers of our Queen
     Are splendours in a battle.
We’re wonders to be seen
     On foot or in the saddle.
When we present our arms
     No maid escapeth capture.
Surrender to our charms is
     Surrender to their rapture.
Surrender to our charms is
     Surrender to their rapture.

The soldiers of our Queen
     Are gentlemen incarnate.
Our conversation’s clean
     Our strongest curse is “Darn it!”
We’re friendly to your cat.
     We’ll gladly pet your poodle.
And always tip our hat
     When asking to canoodle.
And always tip our hat
     When asking to canoodle.

The soldiers of our Queen
     March off in all directions.
Their minds aren’t very keen
     They follow their erections.
They’re primo beef as mates
     When they’re with liquor sotted.
But when one sets a date
     They’re nowhere to be spotted.
But when one sets a date
     They’re nowhere to be spotted.

The authors to these three have been lost in the mists of time:

The soldiers of our Queen
     Are having trouble marching.
Their trousers aren’t clean,
     Their collars need some starching,
And every mother’s son
     Is scared of all the “dollies,”
The Ericas and Jeans
     And ‘specially the Hollys
The Ericas and Jeans
     And ‘specially the Hollys.

The soldiers of our Queen
     Are always first at table.
Each eats like a machine,
     As fast as he is able.
And when the party’s done
     They’ve popped off all their buttons
Their tunics are undone,
     Those soldiers sure are gluttons
Their tunics are undone,
     Those soldiers sure are gluttons!

The soldiers of our Queen
     Have horrid table manners.
They slurp from the tureen,
     Upsetting menu planners.
Don’t have dragoons to dine –
     This point we don’t belabor;
They splash their food with wine,
     And carve it with a sabre.
They splash their food with wine,
     And carve it with a sabre.

The soldiers of our Queen
     Are sinking in the heather.
Each has his “Bonnie Jean,”
     They’re going down together
And when they’ve proved their prowess
     (Good soldiers never tire!)
They’ll find their ladies dear,
     For they are Girls for Hire
They’ll find their ladies dear,
     For they are Girls for Hire!

Holly also wrote a version for the women’s chorus to sing to the men …

The soldiers of our Queen
     Have visions of their marriage:
A wife in bombazine
     Sits stiffly in a carriage;
The center of her life
     Is her dragoonish dearie.
(Oh, sisters, such a wife
     Would very soon grow weary!)
(Oh, sisters, such a wife
     Would very soon grow weary!)

During the Act I Finale of Patience, when the chorus men and women are briefly reconciled, the women surprised the men, during one performance of our 1990 production, by planting a previously unblocked kiss on their partners’ cheeks.  Some of the women, however, discovered, in doing so, that their partners had not shaved since that morning.  This alternate lyric was intended to let the men know that if they wanted more of the same, they had better shave before the performance!

The soldiers of our Queen
     Have scrappy, scratchy faces.
Their whiskers like baleen
     They count among their graces.
To press that prickly cheek
     Is no romantic dally;
If gratitude you’d seek,
     Please shave for the finale!
If gratitude you’d seek,
     Please shave for the finale!

The following two verses (by Holly again) were written and performed to celebrate the occasion of the 100th performance by The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company at the Howard Conn Fine Arts Center, on March 30, 1990…

The soldiers of our Queen
Are veteran campaigners —
A hundred actions seen
By seasoned entertainers.
The audience in hordes,
(In groups or one-by-one-ing)
Has seen us tread these boards
Eleven seasons running.
Has seen us tread these boards
Eleven seasons running.

The soldiers of our Queen
With other luminaries,
Upon this stage have been —
Peers, pirates, yeomen, fairies.
In singing, dancing fun,
With Plymouth’s approbation,
One hundred shows we’ve done —
That’s cause for celebration!
One hundred shows we’ve done —
That’s cause for celebration!

A version that referenced the fire at the Savoy that occurred during our rehearsals …

The soldiers of our Queen
     So history discloses,
Adorned the Savoy scene
     With military poses.
But recently we learned,
     Dismayed to hear the story,
The Savoy has been burned–
     The scene of former glory!
The Savoy has been burned–
     The scene of former glory!

Stephen B. Sullivan, our Set Designer and a member of the men’s chorus commissioned Holly Windle to write a couple of versions of the song that he used as his biography for the show…

This soldier of our Queen
     Is also Set Designer;
A company chorine
     He married (no one finer!).
Nine years he’s been around;
     Three sets he has created;
His carpentry is sound
     (His singing too, it’s stated).
His carpentry is sound
     (His singing too, it’s stated).

This soldier of our Queen
     (Who’s also Set Designer)
Deserves the guillotine
     For crimes much more than minor.
But why present his wrongs
     And ask for an arraignment?
A show to do, and songs,
     Are better entertainment.
A show to do, and songs,
     Are better entertainment

During our 2012 production of Patience, Holly Windle wrote a number of new versions, particularly commemorating special occasions that occurred during the course of the run, including the Preview Performance …

The soldiers of our Queen
     Are bracing for the Preview.
Although they claim they’re keen,
     Don’t let their words deceive you.
When told to “break a leg,”
     They think of stairs or more ways.
And helmets with a peg
     Can thwack against the doorways.
And helmets with a peg
     Can thwack against the doorways.

… Opening Night …

The soldiers of our Queen
     Are weary of rehearsing.
Off stage they’re often seen
     Just reading or conversing.
But now tonight’s the test.
     They’re feeling hale and hearty.
They’ve got to do their best
     And then go to the party.
They’ve got to do their best
     And then go to the party.

… and Saint Patrick’s Day, which fell during the run.

The soldiers of our Queen
     Go on maneuvers daily.
Today they’re wearing green
     And carry a shillelagh.
They flirt with each Colleen.
     Sing Irish songs to Laura.
Then stoke up on poteen
     And shout, “Faith and begorrah!”
Then stoke up on poteen
     And shout, “Faith and begorrah!”

During the run, there was also a tribute to our orchestra …

The soldiers of our Queen
     Are not here to recruit you.
Back wall to mezzanine,
     We gratefully salute you.
The orchestra, we know,
     Is crucial to our labors.
We couldn’t do the show
     Without our offstage neighbors.
We couldn’t do the show
     Without our offstage neighbors.

… as well as a tribute to Marina Liadova, our Music Director…

The soldiers of our Queen
     Have found a new arena.
Backstage we now convene,
     To serenade Marina.
Our singing echelon,
     And her musicians yonder.
All follow her baton –
     Unless attentions wander.
All follow her baton –
     Unless attentions wander.

… a version sung on Closing Night …

The soldiers of our Queen
     March off in clouds of glory.
Their views are Pleistocene,
     But famed in song and story.
They truly hate to leave,
     It’s such an awful pity.
Back home alone they’ll grieve,
     And hum this little ditty.
Back home alone they’ll grieve,
     And hum this little ditty.

… and a mention of the upcoming 2013 production of The Yeomen of the Guard!

The soldiers of our Queen
     Again become civilians.
How boring to be seen
     As just one of the millions.
Perhaps they’ll re-enlist
     To fight some further foemen.
I’m sure you get the gist:
     They may return as Yeomen!
I’m sure you get the gist:
     They may return as Yeomen!

In addition to an apparently endless supply of alternate versions of “The Soldiers of Our Queen,” there actually were other alternate lyric songs written for Patience!

One of the very best alternate lyric songs was written by James Brooks.  It was sung to the tune of “A Magnet Hung in a Hardware Shop” and was performed at the Last Gasp Cast Bash for our 2002 production of Patience and, again, at the Last Gasp Cast Bash for our 2012 production.

Grosvenor:

I looked for love in the Home Depot,
For that is where I like to go!
With hammers and nails and nuts and bolts,
And batteries of many volts.

The maiden worked in Aisle 9.
Impulsively, I jumped in line!
For the girl in the bright orange smock I yearn,
I can hardly be made to wait my turn!

Maidens:

Go wait your turn!

Grosvenor:

To wait my turn!
I am an emphatic paramedic and for her love I burn.
She gives me a thrill like a cordless drill,
So why should I wait my turn?

Maidens:

You are most pathetic,
Not athletic,
One would think you’d learn!
She gets her thrill from her boyfriend, Bill,
So go back and wait your turn!

Grosvenor:

I really could not believe my ears!
What the maidens all said brought me to tears.
I still thought I’d ask her for a date,
But she said,

The Maiden:

Young man, you’re much too late!
My boyfriend drives a Chevy truck,
And he’ll soon be here to pick me up.
Bill’s shiny new truck has lots of chrome!

Grosvenor:

And her boyfriend pulled up,
And drove her home.

Maidens:

He drove her home!

Grosvenor:

He drove her home!
This is too traumatic,
Too much static.
Dating life’s much too hard!
I think I’ll go from this Home Depot
And try to shop Menards!

Maidens:

You are too dramatic,
We are emphatic,
You play with too few cards!

All:

You might as well (Yes, I should) go from this Home Depot
And try to shop Menards!

The company was thrilled when Malka Key, one of our Assistant Stage Managers, rose to offer her contribution during the alternate lyrics concert at the Last Gasp Cast Bash for our 2012 production of Patience.  Malka had done an amazing job the previous year, after our 2011 production of The Pirates of Penzance, singing her delightful synopsis of the operetta, entirely from memory.

Malka presented a wonderful summary of the plot of Patience, sung to the tune of “If You Want a Receipt for that Popular Mystery” and did so, once again, with the piece entirely memorized! 

When you give a synopsis of Patience, or Bunthorne’s Bride,
Start with a chorus of maidens in tears.
To woo them with poetry, heaven knows Bunthorne’s tried.
They’re all in love with him, head over ears.

Now actually Bunthorne loves Patience, the milkmaid,
But to his poetic pretense she’s immune.
She can’t understand why the maids all look so dismayed.
Aren’t they engaged to a heavy Dragoon?

The maids do the best that they can to explain it
And Angela tries when the rest of them can’t.
Love must be unselfish. If it gives you pain, it
Will probably count if it’s not your great aunt.

Setting off to find love she sees Grosvenor, the poet,
Since five he’s improved, and he lets us all know it,
And they would be wed, but then Merciful Powers!
It can’t be true love that such happiness showers.
He’s beauty’s trustee, and so they must abstain,
But he can love her, for she’s homely and plain.

Back now to Bunthorne, who, raffling for charity,
Tries to eat Jane’s ticket; Tom restores parity.
Patience appears and Jane’s hope at once quells.
Followed by Grosvenor – his ears are like shells.

If we’ve cleared out the lobby, it’s time for Act II to start,
Welcomed by Jane, who’s begun to get old.
And in the meantime Grosvenor’s taken up Bunthorne’s part,
All of the maidens are part of his fold.

He reads his own verses, been at it since Monday, well,
His are as simple as Buthorne’s ornate.
The maidens are rapt, but he warns them that one day they’ll
Suffer the Magnet’s inglorious fate.

They’re still undeterred; he agrees, in revulsion, to
Yield to what Bunthorne suggests: on compulsion to
Act against all of the duty he feels to them,
Shun any styles that his beauty reveals to them.
Grosvenor’s All Right – what he says must be so.
The ladies change clothes and so thus ends the show:

The Duke marries Jane and the Colonel, Saphir.
Major then marries Angie – guess Ella’s a free ranger.
Patience and Grosvenor and now the end’s come…
Turns out Reginald Bunthorne’s the residuum.