PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, A Musical by Lindsay Warren Baker & Amanda Jacobs
For a number of years this was the official website of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, A Musical which was originally introduced at the 2011 New York Musical Theatre Festival.
Content is from the site's 2011 archived pages.
Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
A Musical by Lindsay Warren Baker & Amanda Jacobs: A Story of "First Impressions" and Second Chances
The New York Musical Theatre Festival’s Most Promising Musical of 2011!
... Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy’s romance comes to life with fresh eyes as Jane Austen revisits her unpublished manuscript, First Impressions. As Austen transforms their story into what will ultimately become her masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice, both the author and her characters struggle to learn the joy of second chances.
What makes Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, A Musical unique is the way it intertwines and illuminates two compelling love stories: Austen's romantic novel and the author's own passion for her work.
In Jane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, A Musical ...
For more information regarding Jane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, A Musical, contact the writers at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruce Ostler at Bret Adams, Ltd.
Originally presented by the New York Musical Theatre Festival
(Isaac Robert Hurwitz, Executive Director & Producer)
Jane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, A Musical was a selection of the New York Musical Theatre Festival’s 2011 Next Link Project.
About the Musical
Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE springs to life when the author re-imagines the world of her novel. As the compelling love story of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy unfolds, Austen learns to see both the story and herself in a new light.
Cast and Creative
LINDSAY WARREN BAKER (Music, book, lyrics) is a freelance stage director, playwright/composer, teaching artist and yoga instructor. Writing credits with collaborator Amanda Jacobs include Jane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, A Musical; LILY, A Musical Portrait; TRUTH IN BEAUTY: A Shakespeare Sonnet Project; and DANIEL, The Musical. Recent directing credits include productions for Geva Theatre Center’s Young Writers Showcase, Rochester Lyric Opera, and SUNY Geneseo. Ms. Baker also currently serves as an acting instructor and dramatic coach at the Eastman School of Music. She gained some notoriety for her animal rights position and has pushed the cause as part of a promotion for this dog bed store - GoodNightDog - she was photographed surrounded by rescue puppies and the photo went viral when Dog World posted it to their site. Education and Training: O’Neill National Theater Institute, Moscow Art Theatre, Dagara Music Center (Ghana), St. Olaf College, SUNY Empire State College.
AMANDA JACOBS (Music, book, lyrics) is most recognized for her award-winning work on Jane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, A Musical, which swept the New York Musical Theater Awards in 2011, including the coveted "Stage Entertainment Award", and "Most Promising Musical" award. In 2014, she served as a representative for the Jane Austen Society of North America’s International Visitors Program to the UK, where she spent the summer in Jane Austen’s home composing music, organizing and then producing a concert in Jane Austen’s churches in London and Godmersham. This past August, she was invited to present new music from Patricia Noonan’s original story “Learning How to Drown: An Irish Musical” at “The PiTCH” in the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, which now has been invited to be part of the 2015 Johnny Mercer Writer’s Colony at Goodspeed Musicals in January 2015. Another project in the works is THE UP SIDE OF DOWN, a new musical with Y York. Earlier collaborative works include DANIEL: The Musical, LILY, and Truth in Beauty. In addition to these successes, Amanda is recognized for her concert music, including 1st Prize from the Long Island Arts Council (2009), the Marin Lutheran Church Competition (2009), Celebrating Grace (2009), NATS (2002), as well as international recognition for her “Mass for the Living” from the Sacred Arts Foundation (2010). In 2014, she was a winner in the Words & Music Art Song competition for her setting of Emily Dickinson’s poem, “I would not paint a picture”. This summer, she has been invited to present a lecture/recital at the University of Melbourne with a setting of Charlotte Smith’s poem Beachy Head. She grew up in Macon, Georgia and earned her Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from Wesleyan College. Visit http://amanda-jacobs.blogspot.com for more information.
IGOR GOLDIN (Director) received a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Direction of a Musical for his production of the WW2 musical YANK! He is also the recipient of 3 NYMF Awards for Excellence in Direction for Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Crossing Swords and Common Grounds. Recently he directed the new musical adaptation of Brian Friel’s Molly Sweeney, Evita, The Music Man, Twelve Angry Men, South Pacific, Maple and Vine and many more. Off-Broadway he directed the New York Times critics picks, With Glee and A Ritual of Faith. Mr. Goldin was a finalist for the SDC Joe A. Callaway Award for Distinguished Direction. He’s a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC).
JEFFRY DENMAN(Choreographer/Co-Musical Stager): Off Broadway: YANK! (Lucille Lortel nomination), Naked Boys Singing! - Actor's Playhouse, Assistance - Playwright's Horizons, Bullet for Adolf - New World Stages. Bway Workshop: Untitled Tina Landau Project, YANK! Directed by David Cromer; NYMF: Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice (Honorable Mention for Chor.), ValueVille (Honorable Mention for Chor.); Other NY: Liberty (off Bway Workshop), Stage Door Canteen, Jerome Kern Coast to Coast (92nd Street Y), Broadway by the Year concerts (Town Hall.) Regional: West Side Story (Moss Hart Award), Damn Yankees starring Carson Kressley, The Music Man (Moss Hart Award) - Ogunquit Playhouse; Dancing in the Dark (ARTIE award) - Studio Arena Theatre; Creator of CastPRO, the casting app for iPad and author of the book, A Year with The Producers, a journal of his time in the Mel Brooks hit musical.
TIMOTHY SPLAIN (Music Director): New York credits include: Adding Machine (Minetta Lane); A Minister’s Wife (Lincoln Center Theater); 3 Kinds of Exile (Atlantic); Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (NYMF); The Holiday Guys (York); The Hundred Dresses (Atlantic for Kids). Tour: Little House on the Prairie. Regional: Next To Normal (Milwaukee Rep); Little House... (Paper Mill Playhouse); Baritones Unbound (Arts Emerson, Asolo Rep); Rent (Dir. David Cromer); Ragtime (Westchester Broadway); She Loves Me, A Little Night Music, A Minister’s Wife (Writers’ Theatre); Adding Machine world premiere. As Orchestrator/Arranger: The Hundred Dresses, Baritones Unbound, Anatole, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: the Musical.
JOSH ZANGEN (Scenic Designer): Selected credits; Live Concerts: Justin Timberlake 20/20 Experience, Jack White Lazaretto Tour, Outkast 2014, Kylie Minogue Aphrodite Les Follies, Rihanna (Baku, Azerbaijan), Jonas Brothers (Radio City Music Hall), Britney Spears Circus, Kylie Minogue 2009 US tour. TV: Rihanna - VMA’s, American Idol & SNL. Justin Timberlake - Grammy’s, SNL, Brit awards. Live theatre: Spiegelworlds’ award winning Absinthe, Empire, Vegas Nocturne and Desir. Immortal Chi (Int'l Tour), John Lithgows’ Sunny side of the Street, Nickelodeon – Storytime Live!, Orchid (Miami, FL), The Hurly Burly Show (West End, UK), James Lapines’ Mrs. Miller Does her Thing (Wyly, Dallas), Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (NYMF, Award for Excellence in Design). Industrial shows and events for Hallmark, Nascar, The History Channel, CNN, HBO and ESPN. Macy’s award winning holiday windows 'Yes Virginia'. Upcoming: Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus. Faculty: Purchase College.
ANN CLOSS-FARLEY (Costume Designer) Recent Credits include JDT, House Is Black, Rabbit Hole, Fast Company, Broadway Bound, Annapurna, American Misfits, Coney Island Christmas, Eric Idle’s What About Dick?, The Pee-wee Herman Show (on Broadway), Disney’s Toy Story: The Musical, An Evening Without Monty Python, Gronholm Method, Beat Goes On, Cabaret of Souls, Margo Veil, Around The World in 80 Days. She has received multiple Ovation Awards and the Center Theatre Group’s Richard E. Sherwood Award for Emerging Artists. She is a long-time member of the Evidence Room and The Actors’ Gang theatre Companies. Closs-Farley also styles the World Poker Tour, Kaiser Permanente Theatricals, and is has just ompleted an art project for CTG Education for Peter and The Star Catchers.
JASON LYONS (Lighting Designer): Broadway: On The Town, Bronx Bombers, Let It Be, Bring It On, Rock of Ages (Vegas, Toronto, Australia, London and Nat. Tours), The Threepenny Opera, Barefoot In the Park, Good Vibrations. Recent: Heathers, Hand To God (MCC), The Commons of Pensacola (MTC), Murder For Two, Nerds (PTC), Venice (Public), Hello Dolly(Goodspeed), All in the Timing (Primary), Medieval Play (Signature), Uncle Vanya (CSC), White Noise (Chicago), Broke-ology, Clay (LCT), Happy Hour, 2 by Pinter, Scarcity(Atlantic),10 years with The New Group including The Good Mother, Marie & Bruce, Abigail’s Party, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Hurlyburly. Faculty: Purchase College. www.jasonlyonsdesign.com
R. ERIN CRAIG/LA VIE PRODUCTIONS (Producer): Over the past 18 years, Erin has assisted artists and projects in the theatrical community through her work as a General Manager, Production Manager, grassroot marketing / branding Consultant, Executive Producer and Producer. Within the last few years, La Vie has branched out beyond the stage to include the film (produced 2 feature length independent films since 2011 with a third in the works) and music industries. Current theatrical projects include:”Mr. Rickey Calls A Meeting” (a play by Ed Schmidt; directed by J. Nicole Brooks); “Academy” (a new musical by John Mercurio and Andrew Kato influenced by Goethe's ‘Faust’; directed by Igor Goldin); “Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice”; Stalking The Bogeyman” (a new play based on a true story as featured on This American Life); “26 Pebbles” (a new play by Eric Ulloa based on the real stories of Newtown, CT); “Himself & Nora” (a new musical by Jonathan Brielle about the life of James Joyce) as well as several other projects currently in development. Erin is a member of the Broadway League of Theatres and Producers, the League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers, the League of Professional Theatre Women and NY Women in Film and Television. www.LaVieProductions.com
DANIEL WALLACE (Producer) is a producer and production designer with experience in theatre, television, independent film, trade shows, and live events. Design credits include The Jerry Lewis Telethon, The Miss America Pageant, Showtime and Lifetime comedy specials, Women's Sports Foundation, Variety Foundation of New York, and product launches for Solvay, Novartis, and Abbott Laboratories. Producer credits include broadcast industry camera demonstrations for Sony, Canon, and Panasonic. Theatre credits include: My Trip Down the Pink Carpet (NY / London), Three Sides (NY), By Jeeves (London), The Realistic Joneses (Broadway 2014) The Gronholm Method (LA / Broadway 2015). Daniel is a proud member of the United Scenic Artists and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
TRISH WHITEHURST (Producer) Broadway: The Realistic Joneses. Other projects include the LA production of The Gronholm Method (expected Broadway season 2015) ; NYMF: Grant Olding’s Three Sides; London: 15th Anniversary Production of By Jeeves. Film credits: Clear Blue Tuesday. In Development: Paris 36. Trish is also a producer and creative director in theatre, television, film and live events. Event credits include Cable Connections Week, Lancôme’s National meeting and the introduction of vehicles from Mitsubishi Fuso, Volvo and BMW. She began her career working in both lighting and wardrobe with her parents in IATSE Local 72. During her early years in New York, Trish was a stage manager, and during graduate school at Columbia she was an intern at the Shubert Organization where she worked on productions of Zoot Suit and Dancin’.
LA MIRADA THEATRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS (Brian Kite, Producing Artistic Director) is the winner of last year’s L.A. Stage Alliance OVATION AWARD for “Best Season of the Year.” Now in its fourth decade, La Mirada Theatre has been hailed by the Los Angeles Times as "one of the best Broadway-style houses in Southern California." This beautiful state-of-the-art theatre has been producing quality productions for Southern California audiences since 1977. The theatre has produced several national tours with its producing partner, McCoy Rigby Entertainment, and is the recipient of many accolades, including Ovation and Emmy Awards and Tony Award nominations. www.lamiradatheatre.com.
TOM McCOY (McCoy Rigby Entertainment) Currently celebrating 21 seasons at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, McCoy Rigby Entertainment (MRE) is one of the world's premier theatrical production companies. Headed by Executive Producers Tom McCoy and Cathy Rigby, MRE has produced over ninety Broadway-caliber musicals, plays, and concerts featuring some of the biggest stars working in the industry today. In addition, MRE has launched several Tony Award-nominated Broadway, international and national touring productions including: Peter Pan, Seussical the Musical, and Annie Get Your Gun, all starring Cathy Rigby; Frank Wildhorn’s Jekyll and Hyde starring American Idol star and Tony Award nominee Constantine Maroulis along with Grammy Award nominee and R&B; superstar Deborah Cox; Jesus Christ Superstar starring Carl Anderson and Sebastian Bach; Camelot starring Michael York and Lou Diamond Phillips and Happy Days written by Gary Marshall and Paul Williams. Since 1990, Peter Pan starring Cathy Rigby has made four stops on Broadway, four Tony Award nominations including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Actress in a Musical. The A&E; TV network premiere of “Peter Pan,” starring Cathy Rigby, received one Emmy Award and four Emmy Award nominations. MRE’s other credits include numerous award-winning documentaries and stadium events.
FLORES CASTING (Casting Director): Julia Flores has been casting since 1987. Flores Casting is an independent and minority owned boutique casting company based in Los Angeles. Our work has garnered Academy Award, Emmy, Los Angeles Drama Critics and Ovation awards and nominations. Credits include 21 years of casting for McCoy Rigby Entertainment that includes the national tours of “Peter Pan” (two National Tours and the Broadway Revival) starring Cathy Rigby, “Camelot” starring Lou Diamond Phillips, “Jesus Christ Superstar” starring Carl Anderson and “Happy Days, the Musical”. Other tours include: The international production of Jimmy Buffet’s musical “Don’t Stop the Carnival” and the West Coast Tour of “Dream Girls”. Current regional and local theatre clients include: Denver Center Theatre, TheatreWorks, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Theatre@ Boston Court, B Street Theatre, Portland Center Stage and The Pasadena Playhouse. Past clients include: San Jose Repertory Theatre, Universal Studios, Mansion Theatre, Reprise!, Goodspeed Musicals, LA Opera, Goodman Theatre, Lincoln Center Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse, St. Louis Repertory Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, The Long Wharf Theatre, San Francisco Opera, A Contemporary Theatre, Coconut Grove, The Paper Mill Playhouse and Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.
News and Reviews
April 17 – May 10, 2015 – LA MIRADA THEATRE for the PERFORMING ARTS
Jane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, A Musical is selected by jury chair John Lithgow as one of three winners of the 2014 Festival Season.
THE NEW YORK MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL (NYMF) *Winner of NYMF’s 2011 Next Link Project
Excellence in Direction (Igor Goldin)
Most Promising Musical
Excellence in Writing: Book
Stage Entertainment Development Award
The Next Link Project
Excellence in Overall Design (Josh Zangen, set and props; Colleen Kesterson, costumes; Zach Blane, lighting)
Outstanding Individual Performance (Donna Lynne Champlin)
HONORABLE MENTION: Excellence in Writing: Music
Excellence in Writing: Lyrics
Excellence in Orchestration (Amanda Jacobs)
Excellence in Choreography (Jeffry Denman)
Outstanding Ensemble Performance
Choices: First Impressions
Isn't She Wonderful?
When I Fall in Love
My Dearest Jane (First Letter)
He Thinks/She Thinks
Meeting Mr. Collins
I Aim to Please
Meeting Mr. Wickham
The Netherfield Ball
Dancing with Mr. Collins
Dancing with Mr. Darcy
The Bennets Expose Themselves
The Netherfield Ball (Reprise)
My Poor Nerves
My Dearest Jane (Second Letter)
Choices: Second Chances
Take a Walk
Had I Been in Love
I Can't Resist a Redcoat
The Portrait Song
She Thinks He Thinks
I Can't Resist a Redcoat (Reprise)
I Think You're Wonderful
Musical selections feature the talents of ...
Donna Lynne Champlin as Jane Austen
Laura Osnes as Elizabeth Bennet
Eric Ulloa as Fitzwilliam Darcy
Sebastian Arcelus as George Wickham and Charles Bingley
Patty Goble as Mrs. Bennet and Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Jim Stanek as Mr. Collins
Jacque Carnahan as Lydia Bennet
Kat Palardy as Caroline Bingley
Jennifer Waiser as Charlotte Lucas
Sarah Dacey Charles as Cassandra Austen
Michael Scott as Mr. Bennet
Ensemble Women: Jacque Carnahan, Sarah Dacey Charles, Patty Goble, Anne Letscher, Kat Palardy, Jennifer Waiser, Marguerite Willbanks
Ensemble Men: Jon Reinhold, Matthew Schneider, Michael Scott, Jim Stanek, Eric Ulloa
Recorded at Sear Sound (New York, NY), Christopher Allen - Recording Engineer
Review: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (at NYMF)
The New York Musical Theatre Festival is a musical only festival that appears on the New York theatre scene that takes in some of the strongest full productions of up and coming musicals from across the country and gives them the chance to show off their stuff in the heart of New York City.
Every year presents a new crop of productions trying to find their footing and every year there has been standouts. This past year is no exception
For the past several years there has been an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice going through the theatre circles, with a demo session in JASNA Chicago one year, and a one night full production performance in Rochester, New York a few years back.
If one were to do a search for “Jane Austen”, “pride”, “prejudice”, and “musical” there would be a whole crop of productions and attempts that various composers, lyricists and writers have attempted throughout the years. So how would this be any different than the rest?
What the creators: Lindsey Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs have done differently was not just take the story of Pride & Prejudice and put it on stage, but they included the “character” of Jane Austen into the production. Confused yet? Originally Pride & Prejudice was known as “First Impressions”, when Jane Austen sent the manuscript around it was rejected time and again to the point that she shelved the script and began work on Sense & Sensibility.
Later after the success of S&S, with the world itching for another story it is believed that Jane Austen took the story of First Impression and rewrote it heavily into the story we now know as Pride & Prejudice. This musical production not only goes through the storyline we all know and love, but what sets this show apart for the theater goer is that we also see the “author” of P&P and follow her as she edits, reviews, and changes her original manuscript into a masterpiece.
Sometimes Jane Austen (masterfully played by Donna Lynne Champlin) would simply write the story with her character enacting what she wrote verbatim. Sometimes she would struggle with words and her characters would choose for her, and every now and then her characters would simply recite exactly what is on their minds and Jane Austen would just transcribe them word for word. For anyone out there that does fictional writing this should be relate-able on some level.
In the New York Musical Theatre Festival incarnation of the production, the transitions between scenes was absolutely fluid, with the cast aiding in the scene changes. The dance sequences not only added to the story but also moved the storylines along so it isn’t just fluff. The chorus / ensemble numbers were spot on, and the individual performances exceeding expectations on a number of levels.
To this theatre goer, the male performances clearly outshined the female performances (aside from Donna’s interpretation of Jane Austen). Darren Bluestone is absolutely adorable and lovable as the smitten Charles Bingley, while his best friend Fitzwilliam Darcy is every girl’s dream realized by Doug Carpenter. What Doug brings to Darcy is a sense of vulnerability to a character driven by prejudice and pride only for his defenses to be broken down by a slit of a girl, his story arc isn’t just believable but profound as well.
Matthew Schneider is an absolute riot as Mr Collins, and seems to wear the robe of comedic relief for the production. His mannerisms, laugh, and characterization were not just spot on, but took everything to a whole new plateau that I haven’t seen in other productions of Pride & Prejudice.
Jane Bennet, as portrayed by Margaret Loesser Robinson, is believable and heartbreaking countered to perfection by Patricia Noonan’s Elizabeth Bennet. When these two actresses act and interact you could see the chemistry and connection that sisters ought to have.
With some actors/actresses playing dual roles perhaps one of the most surprising is the decision to have Marguerite Willbanks play not only the shallow matriarch Mrs Bennet, but also the insanely imposing Lady Catherine de Bourgh. At first glance I did not realize that both character were being played by the same actress, it wasn’t until I started reading the bios that I was pleasantly surprised. The strength of this actress is to play both characters in such a way that audience members would simply forget that it is the same actress and that is a pleasure to watch.
If there is something that needs tweaking it would undoubtedly be the length of the first act, which honestly cannot be helped because of just how much backstory and set up is needed to get the ball rolling. Quite honestly I did not notice how much time had passed until intermission and in retrospect I do not believe there is much else that the creators could cut to shorten the time in Act One.
Unfortunately the production’s run via the New York Musical Theatre Festival has come to an end, but I highly recommend keeping an eye (or an ear) out for this gem of a production. I’ve been following this for several years now and after seeing the show at NYMF, I am firmly keeping one ear to the ground in hopes of seeing an incarnation pop up soon… like on Broadway.
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
by Zak Risinger on 10.8.11
Book, Music and Lyrics by Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs
Directed by Igor Goldin
Produced by NYMF (New York Musical Theatre Festival)
Off Off Broadway, New Musical
Runs through 10.11.11
The Signature Theatre Company, 555 West 42nd Street
Patricia Noonan and Doug Carpenter in JANE AUSTEN'S PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Photo by Peter James Zielinski.
BOTTOM LINE: A solid musical adaptation of a classic piece of literature.
It's clear to see why Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice has quickly sold out its limited NYMF run at The Signature Theatre. In a festival where many works are being thrust in front of the eyes of New York audiences for the first time and are asked to bring their A-game, Pride and Prejudice presents itself as a piece of polished theatre. This musical has already had several productions out of town and even brings most of the cast from these productions to strut their talents here in New York City. So it’s no wonder that what the audience sees is a smartly crafted and flushed out piece of musical theatre.
Playwrights Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs have taken Jane Austen's classic tale and put a slightly interesting spin on it. Instead of merely telling the story of Pride and Prejudice, they have chosen to have Jane Austen (brought to life with great complexity and nuance by Broadway veteran Donna Lynne Champlin) be an ever-present narrator of sorts who is busy crafting the tale in front of our eyes as she tries to create a follow up hit to her smash success Sense and Sensibility. It is a very interesting convention that allows us to look at the story's characters in a very different way.
While the musical's score is beautiful and masterfully sung by the two leads, Patricia Noonan and Doug Carpenter, I feel that some of the songs hinder the great storytelling that Baker and Jacobs have created. At times it seemed like a song existed just for the sake of there being a song when I would have much preferred the show to rely on the strength of the book. Case in point: the songs sung by the two parents come across as a little “one note” and might have been summed up in a short scene rather than an entire song that doesn’t really propel the plot forward. A great example of a truly remarkable musical moment is the skillfully understated performance of Jennifer Waiser as Charlotte Lucas who delivers a touching and heartfelt rendition of “Not Romantic,” in which she muses on the practicalities of love versus marriage. Although it is brief, it stood out as one of the strongest and most memorable moments of the entire show.
The fact that I can be this picky about a show at NYMF, which showcases musicals at various stages of development, is a testament to the strength of Pride and Prejudice. Don’t get me wrong, it is a solid piece of musical theatre that will thrill fans of Jane Austen to the very core. A huge part of that success is due to the masterful direction of Igor Goldin who manages a cast of 20 with a great sense of ease and finesse. The period choreography by Jeffry Denman also helps create the world of Jane Austen society quite nicely. And one would be remiss to not single out the breakout comedic performances of Matthew Schneider as wealthy, fabulous Mr. Collins and Jacque Carnahan as Lydia Bennet, the saucy younger daughter.
If you’re a fan of sweeping romantic musicals and/or Jane Austen, you will flip for Pride and Prejudice. While it’s not a perfect piece just yet, it is well on its way to greatness. One small suggestion from this reviewer: perhaps a title change would serve the piece well. I would think that something along the lines of Pride and Prejudice: According to Jane Austen or According to Jane: A Tale of Pride and Prejudice might let the audience know that they are not seeing a straightforward telling of Jane Austen’s classic work and might expand their perspective. No matter what you call it, Pride and Prejudice has won over critics and audience members in New York and it is clear to see why. With only one sold-out performance left, if you don’t already have your tickets you'll likely miss the chance to see this production, but I’m sure you’ll see countless regional productions popping all over the country. And who knows? With such success at NYMF, Ms. Austen might have life yet here in New York.
Uh Oh, a Pride and Prejudice Musical? Don't Worry, It’s Pretty Amusing (GO!)
Jenny Lower | April 27, 2015 |
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a story in possession of a built-in fanbase must be in want of a musical adaptation. But even to Jane Austen fans, the notion of reworking Pride and Prejudice with a score may seem ill-advised, if inevitable. After definitive film renderings, modernist updates, and Austen-flavored concoctions, must we suffer the indignity of Darcy, master of Pemberley, singing and capering about?
Happily, the outcome is thoroughly enjoyable if occasionally ridiculous. In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, A Musical, a world premiere directed by Igor Goldin at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, Jane Austen (Bets Malone) is still an emerging novelist, having just earned her first break with a sold-out print run of Sense and Sensibility. (According to the press notes, the show too was something of a hit when it premiered at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, where it collected a Most Promising Musical award.) Jane’s publisher is eager to see more, but she has nothing else stashed in her writing desk — save an abandoned draft of a half-finished work called First Impressions. After the cajoling of her sister, Cassandra (Jill Van Velzer), Jane begins to reread the novel’s opening pages and conjures Elizabeth Bennet (Patricia Noonan), Darcy (Brandon Andrus), their families and neighbors onstage.
The accomplished book by Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs, who also created the music and lyrics, retains much of Austen’s wry humor and narrative voice. Jane remains an active presence in her own story throughout the play, both in command of and beholden to her characters, editing on the fly and meting out hard-headed plot twists. Under Timothy Splain’s music direction, the vocal performances are strong. The arrangements themselves, though somewhat generic, at times perfectly suit the book's tone and material. The thematic significance of one musical motif, “Choices,” is unclear, seeming to refer to both authorial decisions and the limited range of life paths available to women (and perhaps, the author’s own regret). However, a rousing number with Lydia (Arielle Fishman) and her swoony redcoats choreographed by Jeffry Denman, and an ecclesiastical paean by Mr. Collins (a brilliant Jeff Skowron) to his patron, Lady Catherine de Bourgh (Amanda Naughton), are especially effective.
The musical covers so much ground — virtually all the novel’s major plot points in the three-hour running time — that depth is inevitably shortchanged. With Jane Austen upstaging her character’s intelligence, Lizzy comes off as rather more wide-eyed and girlish than the novel’s prose lets on. Noonan and Andrus’ chemistry isn’t always as crackling as it could be, but their interactions still elicit pleasant flutters of anticipation.
Thankfully, the rest of the cast is so strong that time spent away from Elizabeth and Darcy never feels like a chore. Even some of the book’s more tiresome characters, such as Caroline Bingley (Jamison Lingle), Mrs. Bennet (Naughton again), and stick-in-the-mud Mary (Kimberly Hessler) make pleasurable company. If you’ve ever longed to hear Fitzwilliam Darcy belt out his admiration for Elizabeth’s “Fine Eyes,” now is your chance.
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada; through May 10. (562) 944-9801,