Queen Victoria (Dorrie Braun) gave her name to an era that was prim, proper and stultifying in manners and morals, though her own life was passionate and touched by scandal. In writer-composer Rhett Judices new musical, she adores her husband, Prince Albert (Kelby Thwaits), and mourns him ardently after his early death. Only her Scottish gamekeeper, John Brown (Thwaits), can penetrate her emotional isolation and engage her affections. Their intimacy inspires scandal, to the horror of her son, the Prince of Wales (Derek Long). The piece of tin refers to a locket in which the queen preserved a strand of Browns hair, and the plays central conflict is between Victorias servant Mary Tuck (Mary Sutherland), who wants to honor the queens desire that the locket be buried with her, and the prince, who wants to obliterate Brown entirely. By splitting focus between Tuck and the queen, Judice dilutes both tales, which are only sketchily rendered, and his score fails to soar. Braun and Sutherland provide ample emotional conviction, director Douglas R. Clayton mounts a smooth production, Dan Jenkins provides a handsome set and Clifford L. Challys period costumes are lavish. But the piece is too genteel and restrained to reach much emotional velocity. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: April 24. Continues through May 25, 2008
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