DAVIDSON – The Davidson College Theatre Department will present one of its most ambitious efforts ever in producing the North Carolina premier of one of literature’s most popular love stories Oct. 27 to 31.
The college’s presentation of Jane Austen’s 1813 novel, “Pride and Prejudice,” will be the state premier of a 2009 adaptation of the play by Joseph Hanreddy and J.R. Sullivan, originally produced at Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
Professor of Theatre Ann Marie Costa, who directs the production, has assembled a group of local theatre professionals and a large student cast to reinforce the script’s humor and the complexity of Austen’s characters. She said the new adaptation will especially appeal to Jane Austen fans because it maintains much of the novel’s dialogue.
The plot of Pride and Prejudice focuses on the young Elizabeth Bennett as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education and marriage in the landed gentry society of early-19th century England. Elizabeth and her four unmarried sisters live with their father and a zealous matchmaker of a mother. But Elizabeth’s priorities are far from husband-hunting, and when she meets the handsome Mr. Darcy, she finds him proud and arrogant. Eventually, however, in this enchanting story of love, marriage and mutual understanding, Elizabeth discovers that a man can change his manners and a woman can change her mind.
Samantha Krusi and Paul DiFiore, both of the class of 2013, will play Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy.
The Davidson production will present characters, sets and action true to the Regency period of English history in which Austen wrote the novel. Costa said, “Elizabeth and Darcy’s sense of wit, propriety and social grace — their pride and prejudice, if you will — push them away from each other. It’s an exciting relationship for the audience, which ends up rooting for them to overcome their obstinacy and get together.”
The Davidson production involves 21 student actors and two community actors. By show time, many of them will have rehearsed for 20 hours per week for six straight weeks.
Charlotte-based costume designers Bob Croghan and Heidi O’Hare are creating period costumes from scratch for female characters, and Davidson College set designer Josh Peklo has built two major automated platforms that will support outdoor and indoor worlds for 50 scene changes. Delia Neil of UNC Charlotte is choreographing English country dance scenes, and Todd Wren has designed the lighting.
“The elaborate set, lush costuming, complex choreography and musical accompaniment make it akin to a musical,” Costa noted. “I promise it will be quite an entertaining night at the theatre!”