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Monday, May 11, 2015

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice - a Musical

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
Last weekend, I went over to the La Mirada Theatre to see a new production of Pride and Prejudice as a musical. The book and music is by Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs. I had no idea of the cast or the songs, but hey, it's Pride and Prejudice!  It had to be enjoyable.  And it was!

The musical has an interesting framing structure, in that it begins with Jane Austen as a character in the show, trying to revise her novel First Impressions at the insistence of her sister Cassandra.  Jane Austen takes part in the show by telling the story and sometimes the characters will look to her for help or in confusion, and it was very funny to see how Jane sometimes did not know what to do about certain situations.  For example, she was very distressed when Elizabeth turns down Mr. Darcy's proposal.  (Which was suitably awkward and confrontational!)  I liked the idea of Jane Austen needing to reign in her characters and of their sometimes doing things she wasn't expecting.  It's a very author-sensitive view of the story.

The cast for this was excellent too - they all fit the sort of archetypes I've come to associate with the characters given how popular the adaptations have been and they all had wonderful singing voices.  I was especially impressed with Mr. Darcy's voice (might be some personal 'prejudice' on my part though) and the comedic side was handled beautifully by Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Collins.  I especially loved one moment too, when Mrs. Bennet was singing about her poor nerves, and she says something along the lines of being better off dead, and then she looks at Jane Austen and shrilly cries "No!"  Such a funny moment!  The other really hilarious scene was in a dance scene that showed off how badly Mr. Collins danced - he ended up with the wrong partners and in the end was dancing with another gentleman.

The music was the only part of the show that let me down.  It think it was enjoyable to watch the songs performed, and they moved the show along appropriately, but none of the songs were very memorable to me, and I found them mostly blah (for an extreme lack of a better word).  This is a show that is much better to go and watch than to relive in audio form, so I can't complain about it too much, since the visual and the experience of seeing it was positive.  I thought the costumes and the set design was very well done too - elegant and simple.  I think the show just ended it's run at La Mirada, but if a production of it crops up elsewhere, I highly recommend checking it out!



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