Tag Archives: Barnaby

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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Soft Eyes and a Blue Dress

Barry Eitel as Mr. Bingley.

Dear Journal—

I am sorry that I have not written in you in a very long time. Writing does not come easily to me. I am not one with much to say.

But journal, what a night. I am burning through candles thinking about the prettiest girl I have ever laid eyes upon, wondering when we will shall meet again. Cranky Fitzwilliam, no doubt, is tossing and turning in his bed. Typical Darcy. He was quite petulant tonight. Normally I would be embarrassed by his irritable temper, but I was so distracted by soft eyes and a blue dress, I let him sulk all night alone by the punchbowl. Caroline was acting strange as well. The ride home from the Meryton Dance was awkward, just me babbling about the night and the two of them barely glancing at each other.

Either way, they cannot keep my spirits grounded. Miss Jane Bennet is the subject of my love and the cause of my insomnia this night. How lucky that we live just down the road from each other. Not only does a warm sweetness envelop everything she says, she is a fantastic dancer, too! And her brown eyes, her dark brown hair, that dress…Jane’s enthusiasm for life is contagious, and I have a rarely met a girl as tenderhearted.

Elena Mae Spittler as Jane Bennet.

I know it has been but one night, yet I feel strangely like I want to propose marriage to Jane. There are certain, special moments when one is sure of what to do in an instant. I believe the second that I saw Jane was one of those times.

I also sensed an odd connection between Darcy and one of Jane’s sisters. Though he’d never admit it, I think he might be similarly charmed by a Bennet.

The last candle is about to go out, so I will have to retire to a surely sleepless night. I will have my sister call up the Bennet household tomorrow (would not want to appear too forward) and see if Jane would want to take a stroll around the gardens of Netherfield. This will be an interesting summer.

Until next time,

Charles Bingley (aka Barry Eitel)

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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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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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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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Colpo Di Fulmine

“When you are in love you can’t fall asleep because
reality is better than your dreams.”
-Dr. Seuss-

Dear Diary,

Photo courtesy of Paul Simcock Photography.

Lizzy is fast asleep but I am too excited to go to bed. Tonight we went to a dance at Meryton where we met Mr. Bingley, Caroline, and Mr. Darcy. Caroline is a sweet, refined, classy girl. She told me all about Grosvenor Square and I already feel we could be great friends. Lizzy, however, did not seem impressed by her. Mr. Darcy was very nice as well but he was more reserved than the others. He refused to dance with Lizzy and this greatly offended her.  I hope he was just having a bad night and that was why he refused her.

Mr. Bingley… is heavenly. From the instant Charlotte pointed him out I was taken aback by how handsome he was.  As he walked across the room to greet us, I felt as though the whole world and all my worries vanished and all I could see was him. I’ve never felt more pleasant and light headed in my life! He kept smiling at me and I felt in such a daze I could hardly hold myself upright. I had to look away to conceal my attraction to him. Then he asked me to dance! I was so nervous I could hardly get my words out properly but somehow I managed to say yes. The way he held me as we danced was so tender. I felt so at peace, whole, and alive all at the same time. He gazed at me through his soft brown eyes with such attention and affection it made me feel like he really saw me, every aspect of me, and respected and admired me. I have never met a man more pure, honest, and kind. Since the moment I laid eyes on him I haven’t been able to think of anything else but him. I know it sounds silly and premature, and I feel ridiculous saying this, but I honestly feel I could spend my life with him. I am not sure, but I think he likes me too! When we were saying goodbye he held my hand and told me he had a very enjoyable evening.  Hopefully I will get to see him soon! I just hope Lizzy can forgive Darcy for refusing her and see how nice Caroline really is.

I could lay up all night with this ridiculous smile plastered on my face but it is getting late and I really should go to bed. Goodnight for now!

— Jane (Elena Mae Spittler)

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Feel Free to Invite Jane Austen

Spoiler alert!

With a well-written, compelling story comes….a billion adaptations! Did anyone see the Hunger Games movie? Yeah, it was okay, but everyone liked the books better.  And who’s excited about the new “Spiderman” movie?!!? Trick question. Nobody is. They have already made 15 “Spiderman” movies and none of them were that great. (I don’t want to belabor the point here, but Spiderman is supposed to be good-looking. So they put Tobey Maguire in the role? If I fell off a building and he tried to save me, I would be appreciative, of course, but pretty disappointed. And now Andrew Garfield is supposed to be the Spiderman upgrade? Oh, please. I’d say he’s…”tolerable at best”).

Barnaby and Rose drafting line possibilities for one of the show's most pivotal scenes.

When the audience already knows the story and has high expectations, adaptations can be quite tricky. However, I firmly believe that Hallie respects the essence of Pride and Prejudice and has written a version of the story that Jane Austen would watch with utmost approval. We were originally struggling with the lines for Darcy’s second proposal, but then Hallie sat us down with copies of the original book, transcripts of the BBC version and the Keira Knightley version, and our current scripts. We read various selections from each, combined lines from different versions, and eventually came up with with a scene that reflects the original sentiment. Hallie has changed the language throughout the play to make it 1940’s-appropriate, but Jane Austen’s prose still shines through the entire play.

Our talented vocalists will be performing before the show and during intermission to jazz up the production. We’re not putting on a full-on musical, but it has certainly been done! Check out this clip from the finale of Pride and Prejudice, The Musical:

And our Netherfield dance doesn’t look anything like this scene from Bride and Prejudice, but I have no doubt that we’ll be able to match their level of energy if we drink enough sodas from Rocky’s:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoLtHqS_LhA

–Rose Oser (Elizabeth Bennet)

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Pride and Playfulness

This post discusses major plot points in the story. Divert your eyes if you want to be surprised!

I am Austen-obsessed. I’ve seen every movie-adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that I could get my hands on, read sequels and re-imaginings from Darcy’s Daughters to Mr. Darcy, Vampyre and researched enough for a lifetime of scholarly discussions. Everything about the work enchants me, from her characters to the portrait Austen draws of the times; even mentions of the price of a new dress or what they’ll cook for dinner that night inspire me to find out the approximate currency exchange to today, or how exactly one would cook that particular game fowl.

So why do I (and many others) care so much about stories written two centuries ago, set in a world so far removed from our modern lives? What is it about Jane Austen that has inspired so many, all the way up to this whole new take on Pride and Prejudice?

The reasons are many and won’t fit into one blog post. But I think one of the most important is humor.

A group of high school students being ‘forced’ to read Pride and Prejudice won’t agree with me here (not YET), but Austen is hilarious. And part of what makes her stories so funny is how real it all seems. Who among us hasn’t been mortified by our relatives, or made fools of ourselves in new company? It’s part of the human experience, as is telling the tale to a friend later and rolling on the floor laughing at ourselves, even if at the time we could only think a Kitty-esque “My life is OVER!”

Charlotte Lucas shares surprising news with Lizzy.

Elizabeth Bennett loves to laugh at people, as does Charlotte Lucas. These are the characters we identify with, as they observe the absurdity in their surroundings and find ways to have fun at their expense. But what truly makes these characters so likable is a willingness not to take themselves seriously, to laugh at themselves as much as at their neighbors, so strongly juxtaposed with the self-righteousness of Mr. Collins, Mary’s too-serious take on life, and Lady Catherine’s incredible sense of importance. Darcy’s pride is what first gets between him and Lizzy, and even when all is settled between them “to be the happiest couple in the world,” Lizzy knows that “he had yet to learn to be laughed at, and it was rather too early to begin.”

This is one of the many things I love so much about our production. Real life is full of the slapstick, and consequently, so is our production of Pride and Prejudice. This week we’ve been working more intensely on individual scenes, going deeper into our character’s motivations, and finding so many new jokes we can hardly say our lines for laughter. Doors are slamming, nervous boys are tripping over their feet on the way to talk to pretty girls, and heads are popping around doors in a cartoon stack to spy on what must be one of the worst proposals OF ALL TIME. (It’s vying for the title with one just a few scenes later, which it is my pleasure to interrupt (of course!) at quite an awkward moment).

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So the moral of this particular story is that we love Austen for her humor, because that is what makes her stories (and us) so very human. The ability to laugh at oneself, not money, manners or even sweetness of temper, is Pride and Prejudice’s greatest virtue.

— Sarah Asarnow (Charlotte Lucas)

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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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