Category Archives: From the Crew

Pay What You Can!

You heard correctly, folks! This weekend will be exceptionally exciting at the Casa Peralta Theatre in San Leandro because it’s Pay What You Can weekend for Pride and Prejudice. That means princes and paupers alike (and everyone else in between) can see the show and pay whatever they can for the price of admission. Everyone will be admitted. No one will be turned away for lack of funds!

Click on the photo to see what the Bennet sisters think about Pay What You Can Weekend!

Show times are Saturday at 8:00 pm and Sunday at 2:00. Reserve your seat by calling our ticket hot line at (510) 895-2573. Spread the word and bring your friends! We look forward to seeing you there!

— Hallie

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Dream a Little Dream

Opening weekend superseded my expectations in every possible way, and as Alex pointed out in his last post, the show will only continue to grow, mature, and evolve as the run progresses. This whole experience has been a little bit of a dream come true.

Today is a beautiful day in the Bay and I can’t imagine a sweeter date night than dinner under the stars followed by Jane Austen, Glenn Miller, and the smiling cast of Pride and Prejudice.

The cast on opening night.

So take your sweetheart by the hand and join us at Casa Peralta for an evening of laughter and romance. Ticket information can be found above by clicking “See the Show” or by clicking here.

And while you wait patiently for tonight’s 8:00 pm curtain, I suggest listening to the following song on repeat:

Dream a Little Dream

— Hallie

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Director’s Note (or Love is All You Need)

The sweet, smiling faces of our very close-knit cast.

My grandmother introduced me to Jane Austen when I was a little girl. She told me that I’d love Pride and Prejudice, and of course, she was absolutely correct. I’ve read all of Austen’s novels – some many times – but there’s something about this particular story that especially draws me in. And after living and breathing with the Bennet family and their friends throughout the writing and rehearsal process, I’ve come to realize that the thing I love most about Pride and Prejudice is its depiction of love itself.

Love in its many forms is on proud display in this production and every character is fueled by it in one way or another. There’s the sweet, romantic love between Jane and Bingley and the intellectually charged chemistry between Lizzy and Darcy, but there’s also love between friends, love between parents and their children, a love of position and status, and a love and zest for life that’s just as important to the emotional reality of the story. And of course, there’s also the very special love shared between sisters (that I think only sisters can truly understand).

I didn’t realize what an undertaking this project would be when I told the board members that I wanted to direct Pride and Prejudice. Adapting the story was not part of my original production plan… but every script that I read cut one of my favorite characters and I couldn’t bring myself to use any of them. In my version, the sometimes endearing, sometimes mortifying cacophony of the Bennet home is highlighted, and there’s a strong focus on the relationships the sisters have with one other (many scripts cut Mary and Kitty). Roguish Mr. Wickham plays a prominent role (he’s inconsequential in other versions), and Charlotte Lucas is a pragmatic voice of reason (not simply a dowdy old-maid). I’ve also updated the story and set it against a backdrop of my favorite love songs from the 1940s because nothing says “romance” to me more than Glenn Miller, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat King Cole.

This production has truly been a labor of love. I’ve seen 3:00 am more times in the past few months than I care to remember, but I’ve never felt so artistically fueled, focused, and alive. My heartfelt thanks goes to the cast members for your creativity, willingness to spend late nights at rehearsal, and dedication to this show. Your work has made me (as Lizzy might say) “the happiest girl in the world,” and I have loved sharing this experience with each of you. I love all of you – and every moment we’ve spent bringing Pride and Prejudice to life.

— Hallie

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Opening Night!

I can’t believe it’s already here!

I will miss the rehearsal process, but we’re definitely ready to share the production with an audience. I’m looking forward to having a full house tonight.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the cast. You each bring something special to the show and I can’t imagine what this experience would have been like without all of you in it. I love all of you –  and every moment we’ve spent bringing Pride and Prejudice to life.

— Hallie

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To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Last night I was asleep by 9:30. For someone who literally gets 3-4 hours of sleep per night during the week, the 9 full hours I clocked were nothing short of luxurious. Or, as Bingley might say, “They were just…they were perfect.”

But, I can’t say they were completely restful. With one short week before Pride and Prejudice opens it should be no surprise that I can’t stop thinking about the show – apparently even while unconscious. Needless to say, my dreams last night were all show related. Here’s a breakdown of the most memorable moments:

  • Mr. Darcy in 1970-something

    Mr. Darcy, 1970-something

    Someone stole all of the men’s costumes and replaced them with ugly, 1970’s inspired garb. During dress rehearsal, Mr. Darcy strutted his stuff wearing a bell-bottomed leisure suit and Mr. Bennet wore a tight, open-collared, avocado green polo. Both Barnaby and Scott said their new costumes felt more “authentic” than the old ones and refused to take them off. I cried.

  • ALL of the ladies burned their hair off after Elena shared a new curling iron with them. Eileen called every wig shop in the bay area but they were all sold out. I woke up as Terry was researching hats and bonnets…

Elena, post curling iron disaster

  • Nick decided that he didn’t want to sing the songs that we’ve been working on anymore. The Arctic Monkeys, he insisted, would be much more appropriate for the show. 505 became the new lead-in to Act II. Click the links for a better understanding of my ensuing panic attack.

Nick as the lead singer of the Arctic Monkeys.

  • And finally, Laurie broke her ankle and I had to scramble to find a last minute replacement. After unsuccessfully offering her roles to four different actresses, I ultimately had to step in and go from crew to cast.

Laurie's current footwear

Oh wait, that last scenario wasn’t part of my stress dream…that actually happened!

Laurie will share all the details later, but for the time being, allow me to introduce Miss Georgiana Darcy:

Hallie as Georgiana

That's me as Georgie.

Oh my. Life suddenly got a little more interesting.

— Hallie (Director, writer, and Georgie, too)

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Snappy Suits & Dandy Dresses

One of my favorite moments of any rehearsal process is the day the cast goes on a costume parade. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Actors raid their characters’ closets and walk back and forth across the set while the director and costume designer give each outfit an official “yay” or “nay”.

Nick knows he looks good in this snappy jacket and vest combo.

Perhaps I’m biased, but don’t you agree that Pride and Prejudice is filled to the brim with ridiculously attractive actors looking exceptionally dapper? (I know you do. And I promise not to be mad if you come to the show for the romance, but stay for the wardrobe).

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— Hallie

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Austen Meets Improv

Taylor and Alex improving a scene.

I moved to the Bay Area recently from Chicago. If you’ve been to that toddlin’ town, or if you know anything about Second City, you know that Chicago theatre has a strong foundation in improvisation. A lot of people think that improv is solely comedy and coming up with ridiculous situations and ideas in a matter of seconds. That’s definitely a large part of it, but improv is essentially unscripted story telling in its most raw and honest format. It can be between one, two, three, seven, twenty-eight, or any number of people about any subject.

We’ve been using improv during some “Pride and Prejudice” rehearsals for several reasons. First of all, Austen is like Shakespeare in that the language is specific, lyrical, and follows a certain pattern. Even though Hallie is updating the script to fit a more modern setting, some of the language and situations are antiquated. Improv allows the actors to make the scenes and words real for themselves. Second, improv puts everyone on the same page. Whether you are an actor with years of experience or a young person just starting out, on book or off book, improv brings everyone to a similar starting point.

Jane and Lizzy gossip about Mr. Collins.

 

In our production, there are a few wordless moments that are happening in the background simultaneous to dialogue in the foreground. We’ve been asking the actors to improv these moments by adding their own dialogue – which hopefully assists them in finding the emotional reality of the situation as well as their character’s subtext. It’s been very interesting watching the actors tackle and explore this format for rehearsals. This cast is unique in their willingness to explore and play and take chances.

Barry and Barnaby love to improv.

I hope the audience will have as much fun as they are!

— Eileen Tull, Assistant Director

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It’s Raining Men

Everyone knows that Pride and Prejudice is one of the greatest love stories of all time. Although our production is chock-full of gorgeous girls galore, this post will be dedicated to the men of Pemberley, Netherfield, Longbourn, and Hunsford who make our hearts go pitter-pat.

Who hasn’t swooned over the highly intellectual, dark and broody, devastatingly handsome, hard-to-get-because-he-has-such-high-standards Mr. Darcy?

Barnaby Williams as Mr. Darcy.

Or the ever-optimistic, heart-on-his-sleeve, finds-love-and-runs-after-it Mr. Bingley?

Barry Eitel as Mr. Bingley.

Or the roguish swagger of the I-know-you’re-bad-but-I-want-you-anyway Mr. Wickham?

Alex Skinner as Mr. Wickham.

That’s where the romance ends for most readers of Miss Austen’s popular novel. Luckily for our audience members, we’re turning up the heat in the English country-side!

We’ve got handsome husbands clinging to your every word:

Scott Van de Mark as Mr. Bennet.

And hot mailmen delivering more than just the mail:

Ulises Toledo as the mailman.

And Sinatra-singing officers wearing make-you-melt uniforms:

Nick Kempen as Captain Denny.

And for you less sinful types, let me recommend England’s most meticulously groomed, upwardly-mobile, sure-to-shower-you-with-compliments pastor:

Julio Rafael as Mr. Collins.

There’s truly someone for everyone in this fantastic story. No wonder we still love it 200 years later.

— Hallie

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Adapt, Write, Edit, Repeat

My grandmother  introduced me to Jane Austen when I was a little girl. She was the one who told me that I’d love Pride and Prejudice and (per usual) she was absolutely correct. I’ve read all of Austen’s novels – some many times – but there’s something about this particular story that I especially love. Perhaps it’s Lizzy and Darcy’s romantic battle of wills. Or maybe it’s the sometimes endearing, sometimes mortifying cacophony of the Bennet home. It’s difficult to identify exactly what drew me in so many years ago, but each time I read the book I discover something new. Lately, the roguish George Wickham and earnest little Mary Bennet have (as Mr. Collins would say) “captured my special attention”.

When I told the other board members of the San Leandro Players that I wanted to direct Pride and Prejudice, I didn’t realize what an undertaking this project would be. I wasn’t happy with the scripts that I found so I decided to write my own. In preparation, I reread the novel and watched the BBC mini-series and the Kiera Knightly movie. The most difficult part of the writing process has been deciding what characters, scenes, and story lines to keep in the play and what can be left out. In my version of Pride and Prejudice, the Bennet sisters are highlighted (some scripts cut Mary and Kitty), Mr. Wickham plays a prominent role (he’s inconsequential in the other scripts as well as the movie), and Charlotte Lucas is a pragmatic voice of reason (not simply a dowdy old-maid). Writing and editing this play has been a labor of love – I’ve seen 3:00 am more times in the past few months than I care to remember – but I don’t think I’ve ever felt so creatively fueled, focused, and alive.

Special thanks to Smarmina Ophelia Bianca Lewis Hunt (aka Mina the Kitty) for keeping me company during all those late-night writing sessions.

— Hallie

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Welcome to Longbourn!

Hello, and welcome to Longbourn House! Here you will find the musings of the cast and crew of San Leandro Players’ 2012 production of Pride and Prejudice. Get a behind the scenes glimpse of the actors’ methods and the rehearsal process. And make sure to get tickets to the show!

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