Pride and Prejudice Musical a winner by TheatreWorks
Pride and Prejudice: Musical. Book, Music, and Lyrics by Paul Gordon. Based on the novel by Jane Austen. Directed by Robert Kelley.TheatreWorks of Silicon Valley, Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Rd., Palo Alto, CA. (650) 463-1960 or www.TheatreWorks.org. December 4, 2019 – January 4, 2020.
The love affair between Jane Austen, Paul Gordon and Robert Kelley’s award winning TheatreWorks has again been rekindled and is ablaze at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto. In 2007 it was Austen’s Regency novel Emma created into a musical by Gordon that became one of Theatreworks’ most endearing and successful productions. This time it is Pride and Prejudice that comes to life as a musical and Gordon takes solo credit for its birth. He is mostly faithful to the written word but has changed the time frame to Christmas making it a perfect vehicle for the Holiday Season.
Great Britain’s Regency Period (1811-1820) was a time of strict social rules yet the female catalyst for the story is the headstrong Elizabeth Bennet challenging those rules. In our present day she would literally be carried on the shoulders of the #Metoo movement. Love was not necessary for entrance into a marriage contract. Money and social prestige take precedence and variations on that situation are the facts that infuse the bulk of Austen’s book using the Bennet family to exemplify the social mores.
That Bennet family is the core of her novel and she surrounds them with distinctive characters representing the mores of the time. The Bennet families consist of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and their five unmarried daughters. It is Mrs. Bennet intent to arrange suitable marriages for those daughters. There is a sense of urgency since their county home will be inherited by the supercilious clergyman neighbor Mr. Collins. The pride and prejudice of the title not only refers the milieu of Regency period but also specifically to Elizabeth Bennet and rich dashing landowner Mr. Darcy.
When they first meet there is mutual attraction and revulsion with Darcy addicted to “The World We Live In” and Elizabeth suggesting a “Walk through the Mud” and she challenges his ‘false’ “Bravado.” Never fear since that conflict disappears at the end of the second act.
Before that happens we get to meet Mr. Bingley the affluent friend to Darcy who falls in love with the oldest and most beautiful daughter Jane with the duet “More Than Hello.”
Enter the rue Mr. Wickham who initially charms Elizabeth with “My Ministry” but that “friendship” is derailed when Darcy tells her of Wickham’s treachery. But alas the youngest daughter Lydia falls under the guile of Wickham and runs away with him without the promise of marriage. The appearance of the dowager Lady Catherine De Bough adds further conflict with “Her Ladyship’s Praise” a backhanded insult to Elizabeth who stands her ground.
All the major characters are in place and with a series of other songs ends with the finale of “Happiness in Marriage.”
TheatreWorks has assembled a stellar cast for this production. Mary Mattison stars as Elizabeth Bennet and Justin Mortelliti stars as Mr. Darcy. The other Bennet sisters are played by Sharon Rietkerk (Jane), Melissa WolfKlain (Mary), Tara Kostmayer (Lydia), and Chanel Tilghman (Kitty). Christopher Vettel plays Mr. Bennet and Heather Orth debuts as Mrs. Bennet. Travis Leland plays Mr. Bingley.
Robert Kelley directs the 19 member cast to perfection effectively using Jane Bennet (Sharon Rietkirk) to briefly introduce each scene. He intricately moves the players on Joe Ragey’s magical set that employs three large screens to project atmospheric vista of English country sides and Regency interiors. All this is made more glorious with lights by Pamila Z. Gray and sound design by Brendan Aanes. Fumiko Bielefeldt earns extra accolades for her perfect creation of period costumes. It all creates a “should see” charming evening perfect for the holiday season and beyond.
Running time is two hours and 20 minutes with an intermission.
Kedar K. Adour, MD
Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com.