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Arts & Culture

A San Antonio Theater's Classic Take On Jane Austen

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Siggi Ragnar
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Contributed Photo
Alison Bridget Chambers, back row, from left, Emily Huber and Carolyn Dellinger; Alyx Gonzales, front row.

The Classic Theatre extends the origins of Jane Austen's “Pride and Prejudice” into a period production called “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley.” The novel revolves around Elizabeth Bennet and her efforts in polite society to find the man of her dreams. She finally does, after much difficulty, in the form of Mr. Darcy.

 

"In the novel, Lizzie at the end makes a comment about 'You must come see us at Pemberley for Christmas,' “ said Kelly Roush, who directs the production. “So the playwrights took that, and ran with it."

For this production, the focus is on the middle sister, Mary Bennet.

IF YOU GO WHAT: Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley  WHERE: Classic Theatre WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday & Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday COST:  $18-$33

"So Mary is an introvert. So she has spent the last two years at home with her parents, playing the piano, and reading books about science," Roush said.

Mr. Darcy, as it turns out, brings a cousin home to celebrate Christmas. Bennet and that cousin feel a certain sizzle for one another.

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Credit Siggi Ragnar / Contributed photo
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Contributed photo
Sam Mandelbaum, from left, Hunter Wulff, and Nick Lawson.

"There's definitely sizzles and sparks," she said.

Roush says the dialogue stands out, like in the novel.

“Yes, their smartness is a delight. As actors it is a delight to be so smart, and witty,” she said. “And the audience enjoys that and hears that as well."

Roush says that rapid-fire intelligent dialogue makes for great theater.

"When you think Aaron Sorkin or Amy Sherman Palladino, smart is fun,” she said. “And hearing the audience catch the smartness and the quickness of these people in conversation … it's amazing how you can insult someone without using bad language."

 

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Credit Siggi Ragnar / Contributed photo
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Contributed photo
Alyx Gonzalez and Hunter Wulf

Centering around a holiday celebration long ago, it’s clear awkward family gatherings were a theme even back then.  

"The things we love are classic stories with contemporary relevance. And yes, it's a 200-year-old story the way it's set, but it completely resonates and sizzles today," Roush said.

The Classic Theatre's 90-seat audience means no one’s too far from the stage.

"The farthest seat away is 16 feet, so they really feel like they're in the middle of the action," she said.

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org