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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It’s Time To Light the Lights!

Here we are, so close to the finish line! Tonight is final dress, and as I blog this, the cast is getting into costume, curling the last few tendrils, and applying va-va-va voom red lipstick. This journey has been so much fun and we’ve created a fun and charming community that I hope you’ll enjoy.

You can reserve your tickets through the See e Show part of the page!

– Eileen Tull, Assistant Director

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First Impressions in the Modern Market

Pride and Prejudice,  “a novel in three volumes by the author of Sense and Sensibility” (itself styled “By A Lady”) was first published in 1813. This past December that Lady turned 236 years old and she remains as popular as ever. Countless editions of this, her best-known book have been printed, plays have been adapted, and movies have been produced.

Jane’s come a long way since 1813, and so has the business of Austen. After all, here we are in 2012, marketing our own, brand new production via blog, tumblr, and facebook. I even own a Jane Austen action figure. So, how do publishers go about selling classic Austen books to the next generation of readers?  The answer, fittingly, is in first impressions.

One of my hobbies is collecting book covers (nerd alert). I am endlessly fascinated by how different artists envision new works and re-imagine classics, all with the aim to catch the eye of the reader. Ruben Toledo’s Pride and Prejudice is a personal favorite, and I’m less fond of ones where all I can see is a “Now a major motion picture” sticker. A while back I was browsing through the young adult section of the bookstore when I came across this:

Coupled with similarly styled copies of Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet, I found Pride and Prejudice done up to look like Twilight. At first I was shocked. Then vaguely insulted. Then I ranted at my friend for twenty minutes about how Bella and Edward should never be compared to Lizzy and Darcy (or to the loves stories in Romeo and Juliet or Wuthering Heights) since they would probably spend their time making fun of Romeo and Juliet and running away screaming from Cathy and Heathcliff. Click here for a visual representation of what I mean.  But now, all I can think is that it’s brilliant.

Twilight contains many a reference to Austen’s works, while the second and third books in the series actually loosely base their plots on Romeo and Juliet and Wuthering Heights. Bella and Edward even discuss the similarity of their lives to those of the characters in the classic books they’re reading. (Makes the old English class assignment about how this book relates to one’s life a bit more pertinent if your life actually is a tragic romance). Wuthering Heights even has a sticker listing it as “Bella and Edward’s favorite book.” I’ll bet that if my younger cousin saw that she wouldn’t stop reading until the vampires showed up.

And since our play updates Pride and Prejudice to a more modern era, I thought I’d share a recent find: a copy of Pride and Prejudice from 1940.

— Sarah Asarnow (Charlotte Lucas)

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Break a leg! (But Not Literally)

By the title, you can probably guess where this entry is going.  Yes, I did the unthinkable: braved a trampoline park three weeks before opening night.  Only “braved” would imply some sort of triumph, and regrettably, my experience was anything but this.  The real kicker is, seconds after reality set in as I lay there clutching my dislocated and broken ankle, Hallie’s admonition only a few days prior to “please not break any legs as this could adversely affect the show” suddenly rang loud and clear.  I turned immediately to my roommate/ castmate/ the birthday girl and whimpered: “Rachel, that’s it.  I can’t be in the show anymore.”

Cast birthday parties at trampoline parks may not be the best idea.

Short of death or any number of other horrific events, this is an actor and director’s nightmare scenario.  Fortunately for the show, my three roles are minor and I will still be able to play Anne De Bourgh, whose sickly disposition is arguably enhanced by my real-life circumstances (no spoiler alert here: come to the show and you’ll see just why…)  And contrary to my initial, trauma-induced assumption, the X-rays showed a much more stable fracture than the doctors expected, so there is actually a good chance I will get into a walking cast soon.  For this reason, Hallie decided against casting an outside actor to fill in for my other two roles.  Instead, she has graciously volunteered herself to play Georgiana Darcy, and Sukanya (Lady Catherine) will add Lady Lucas to her repertoire for the time being.


So despite the circumstances, I consider myself very lucky.  The injury could have played out far worse, and I could be sitting here typing up a far more depressing story.  Even if that were the case, though, I like to think I would have found a way to replace the focus on the negatives with a more optimistic outlook, as I have been striving to do these last couple weeks.  I absolutely can’t overstate the healing effect of wonderful, supportive castmates who blanket your facebook wall with well-wishes, not to mention a traditional “Get Well” card oozing with warm fuzzies.

Poor little Anne de Bourgh

I couldn’t be more in love with this cast (the actors, not my fiberglass leg covering) or more proud to be part of this production.  I’m still attending all the rehearsals and helping out with the sound board. It’s something I’ve never done and I’m enjoying learning what goes on in the booth.  I can’t wait to share the joy we’ve all been keeping to ourselves with our first audience next Saturday–onstage and off!

— Laurie O’Brien (Anne de Bourgh, sound board op, and hopefully, Georgiana and Lady Lucas)

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Working Harmoniously in the Dark

We have less than a week until opening night and rehearsals are in full swing. The amount of development the production has experienced over the past few days is both amazing and enriching. I thought I’d pen down few of my observations…

"When Lady Catherine insists, it's best to go with it."

Set Changes: Last weekend we choreographed the set changes. I have never been part of more extensive and complex set changes in past theater lives. And believe it or not, I started with the rather negative approach of , “Why do I have to this.” However, I ended up thinking, “Wow this seems good fun.” This was especially true when Hallie challenged us to make most set changes to happen in under 25 seconds. I loved it. It was like being in a battle field with the artillery being called upon to attack. But all fun aside – it was an amalgamation of absolute team work that required an understanding of every person on stage working harmoniously in the dark, changing a gazillion objects from one place to another. My special thanks to my pouf partner, Danielle, who taught me how to pick up heavy objects without hurting my back.

The Costumes: So, one night of rehearsal was just “costume call.” Seventeen of us tried all sorts of dresses and clothing specifically marked by character, size, and actors. There were, I am told, a total of eighty costumes to try on (not for me alone, of course). The amazing part was there were no overlaps, no fights, no attitude from any actors. We all did our little parade for the director- and she as the costume judge approved and/or disapproved of each outfit. It was a breeze considering there were so many of us and the costumes were a closet full.

Actor Turning into a Prop: My gorgeous daughter on stage, Laurie O’Brien, had a little mishap. She literally “broke her leg” (well ankle to be more specific)! Urg! what a loss to the characters she was playing (Lady Lucas, Georgiana, and Anne De Borough). On the brighter side, however, the character of Anne De Borough is a rather sick girl – so this mishap added a little texture to the play. Laurie turned into a prop and was assigned to four male actors during a scene change who carry her on stage as very sick Anne. This is hilarious and I think a very creative twist considering the circumstances.

Playing Multiple Roles: When I was originally cast in Pride and Prejudice, it was only as Lady Catherine de Borough. However, during our rehearsal period, the director added me as a mysterious, questionable woman, and then after Laurie’s mishap, I was assigned to play Lady Lucas. This gig came with a lot of surprises I thought. I’ve gone from playing Lady Catherine as a haughty, rich woman, to getting flirty with one of the most debonair and handsome actors (Alex, I wish the scene could have been longer), to embodying an old, haggard Lady Lucas. Though all characters make short appearances, I am loving the challenge of portraying all three of them – each one different from the other.

— Sukanya Sarkar (Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Lady Lucas, and Woman of Questionable Character)

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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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Woe is Mrs. Bennet

“Raising five daughters is so exhausting!  They’re all beautiful (unlike poor Charlotte Lucas!) grown, and ready to wed, but where are all the good, rich, husbands? 

What a mess my husband’s family made of our prospects!  My poor daughters have no estate to inherit (alas, we have no sons), so we’re facing the prospect of being thrown out in the street when their father dies!  Oh, he looks healthy enough…but you never know!  Oh, what’s a poor mother to do!”

Back: Jane, Elizabeth, Mrs. Bennet, Mary
Front: Kitty, Mr. Bennet, Lydia

Anyway, that’s the situation Mrs. Bennet faces in Pride & Prejudice.  It’s fun connecting with social attitudes that are over 150 years old; that almost the only good prospect for a girl was marriage to a rich man.  Ugghhh!  How far we’ve come…or have we?  This story still resonates, and it says something to each of us.  Different things to different people, but there you go!

— Terry Guillory (Mrs. Bennet)

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Smiling from Ear to Ear

Nick is all smiles.

We’re gearing up for opening night now. Rehearsals have been getting longer, more frequent, and more intense. Tempers should be flaring, egos should be showing. Are they? Not at all. I’m proud to say this has been one of the most pleasant rehearsal processes I’ve ever had.

This cast is so wonderfully talented. Every single actor shines brilliantly in their role (roles for some people). I’ve been the rehearsal prompt when I am not onstage, so I’ve had the pleasure of watching all of the scenes multiple times. Every single time I’m grinning like a kid (sure I can still be considered a kid, but shhh, that doesn’t matter). Last night’s rehearsal was the first time I’ve seen Sukanya in one of the scenes, and I swear the laughs that escaped my throat were inhuman, really.

Most of the people coming to this show expecting a haughty, grand, pretentious love story will be pleasantly surprised. At the heart of this story is a charming tale about family and expectations, and although many of those expectations are left unmet, the characters triumph (spoiler!). It’s uplifting.

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If you’re following this blog, there’s a good chance that you’re going to come see the show, so I probably don’t need to advertise much. However, I must say, in (more or less) the words of Lizzy: Whoever leaves this show not smiling from ear to ear should have their eyes examined. I adore every single person involved in this production, and what they bring to the show is a warm, genuine feeling that makes this show what it is. You do not want to miss this one.

— Nick Kempen (Vocalist, Captain Denny, William, Mr. Reynolds, Uncle Gardiner, and the mailman)

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Countdown to Opening Night!

We know that you’re probably getting  a little doll-dizzy with anticipation of opening night, but don’t flip your wig yet, there’s only eleven days to wait!

All the pieces are coming together – lights, costumes, props, and all of the intense character work we’ve been honing for the past few weeks. We’re finessing the comic moments and working through the romantic, intimate scenes.

You can purchase tickets on our website and RSVP on Facebook!

See you there!

Performances run:
Saturday, April 14th-Sunday, May 13th
8PM Saturdays, 2PM Sundays

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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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