The MSU Department of Theatre presents a theatrical adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice at MSU’s Fairchild Theatre February 19-28. The production is directed by Dan Smith, Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies at MSU. Ticket prices and show times are available below.
“This production of Pride and Prejudice celebrates the journey of reading, of opening a book and entering a world of the imagination,” Smith said. “Our imaginations as readers can incorporate personal connections to a text…In approaching Pride and Prejudice as a script, I pictured a young woman reading the novel in a coffee shop and being drawn into the story, imagining herself as Elizabeth Bennet. It should be a pleasure for the audience to experience the world of the novel from Elizabeth’s perspective.” BFA student Taylor Blair plays Elizabeth Bennet and MFA Acting Candidate Curran Jacobs plays Mr. Darcy.
“I don’t usually share this…but it has been a small dream of mine to play the role of Mr. Darcy ever since I was young,” Jacobs said.
Dave Wendelberger, Academic Specialist in Musical Theatre and Public Relations, said production of the show started in late October when the director met with designers to present a premise and discuss design elements. “Rehearsals with the cast started in early January,” he said.
Smith said as far as he knows, this is the first time MSU has presented Pride and Prejudice on stage. “There are several stage adaptations; a different one was done recently at Center Stage in Baltimore, Maryland. The script we are using, by Joseph Hanreddy and J.R. Sullivan, premiered at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre in 2009.”
In this adaptation, the actors have tried to “combine contemporary insight with period style to play their roles with some nuance.” Smith said it has been interesting for cast and production staff to combine the contemporary and the traditional. “The sound designers are having fun. One piece of original music for the show is heard in two arrangements—a smooth jazz version in the coffee shop and a lush orchestral version for the reveal of Pemberley,” Smith said. “There is a fun moment with props at the Netherfield ball. Instead of drinking out of punch glasses or champagne flutes, the characters have paper coffee cups.”
“I certainly hope that Janeites will enjoy the show. The adaptation is fast-paced and very accessible, while preserving all the main storylines of the novel. Our production hopes to offer a fresh interpretation that is grounded in my own reading of both this novel that I love, and this script that I find to be really smart, witty and moving,” Smith said.
Wendelberger said after Pride and Prejudice, the MSU Department of Theatre has two more shows in its season, Xtigone and Grease. “Xtigone is directed by visiting artist Dr. Shondrika Moss-Bouldin. It uses hip-hop, poetry and dance, and dialogue that speaks with an urban voice, to reimagine Sophocles’ Antigone. It tells the story of the ill-fated Xtigone and her quest for her community’s truth,” he said. The show has been selected as part of a national search related to global diversity and inclusion.
Grease is directed by Brad Willcuts with music direction by Wendelberger. This version of Grease, Wendelberger said, will offer a blend of nostalgia and social critique. Using the original, grittier script from 1971, this production, he said, will reinvent the musical favorite. For more information, visit the department’s website at www.theatre.msu.edu.
Performance times and admission prices for Pride and Prejudice:
Saturday, February 20, 2016 at 2:00pm
*Sunday, February 21, 2016 at 2:00pm
Friday, February 26, 2016 at 8:00pm
Saturday, February 27, 2016 at 2:00pm
Saturday, February 27, 2016 at 8:00pm
Sunday, February 28, 2016 at 2:00
* Director Pre-Show Discussion, Sunday, February 21, 2016, 1:15.
** Post-Show Discussion on Thursday, February 25, 2016. (Following the performance)
Tickets are available from the Wharton Center Box Office; 1.800.WHARTON; www.whartoncenter.com.
Box office at the Fairchild Theatre opens 1 hour prior to each performance with house doors opening 30 minutes prior.
General Admission $17. Seniors and Faculty $15. Students $12. (A $3.00 Wharton Center facility fee is added to every ticket)