Tag Archives: Mary

Lifting a Car While Cooking Dinner

Ulises studies his script during this week’s brush-up rehearsal.

I have been waiting for this moment. I wanted to speed up time to get to this weekend. This will be the first (and final) weekend that our entire cast performs together.

As the cast likes to say, “When Daddy doesn’t deliver, the Mailman does.”

Due to scheduling conflicts, I’ve been sharing my roles with Nick. He was there the first two weeks, I was there the second two weeks, and now we’ll both be performing this week. I wish I could have been there on opening night to see the whole performance, but now even better, I get to live the show with everyone. We’ve enjoyed great audiences throughout the run of this show, and even though this is our last weekend, I still get a little nervous before going on stage. But, as with many actors, I love to use that “nervousness” and channel it into adrenaline. And all this waiting has me feeling like I could lift a car while I cook myself dinner. I just need to get on stage and share that wonderful stage with my cast mates. The show has evolved over the past month, and it almost feels like a whole new play!

Ulises Toledo stands in for Mary while Nick Kempen plays the Mailman (a role they share).

I hope you enjoy the show, because if the audience enjoys it, I enjoy it 5 times more.

I am READY!

Are you?

Well… you better be! Watch this classic novel live on stage.

P.S. The music is great, especially the singing. (Whoops…I hope I didn’t give away too much information!)

 

— Ulises Toledo (William, Uncle Gardiner, and the Mailman on Saturday, May 12th and Captain Denny and Mr. Reynolds on Sunday, May 13th)

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More Than Just a Cast

Taylor during the costume parade.

Acting is my passion. This craft feeds my soul and I am truly happy when I’m on stage. I love the dynamic of being able to share that passion with other actors during a show.

Then there’s this cast.

The cast of Pride and Prejudice is so much more than just a cast. We are a family. When one cast member is sad or sick, we pick each other up. When one cast member needs her hair curled or help with a costume, we help. No questions asked. When someone forgets a prop or scene change, we cover for each other.The positive energy backstage is amazing. It fuels me to be my very best in every aspect of the show.

The lovely Bennet sisters.

I’ve always been insecure, and acting has helped a lot, but I never in a million years thought I could pull off the comedic timing and wild personality  of Lydia.  Thanks to the laughs and compliments from my family (a.k.a cast) I humbly have the confidence to explore new choices I never knew I was capable of. So thank you all! You have done so much for me and this has been one of the happiest, most hilarious and talented group of people I ever had the pleasure of working with. Love you all!

— Taylor Melville (Lydia Bennet)

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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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Each Fleeting Moment

(This post was inspired by motivational talks from my roommate, cast-mate, and forever-Hall-&-Oates-dance-partner, Laurikins O’Brien).

As opening night rapidly approaches, I feel a cauldron of nervous energy brewing in the pit of my stomach. I genuinely forgot how much hard work a production takes. Sweet baby Jesus, it’s a lot of concerted time and energy.

When the Bennet sisters stand in line according to age, the cast calls it "Von Trapping".

And, as so proves my experience with most other things in life, the more time and energy you put into a project, the more emotionally invested you become. And, the more emotionally invested you become, the higher your hopes and expectations for the anticipated outcome. Anticipation for the unknown causes anxiety…and there’s a helluva lot of unknown tangled up in my expectations for the next few weeks.

My anxiety stems, I think, mostly from anticipation of my ability to deliver for the two groups whose opinions I care about the most: our audience and our cast.

A flurry of questions around those two subjects has been floating around in my head lately. While sitting on BART commuting into work, I find myself imagining our future audience: Will we have an engaged and supportive crowd? Will they laugh at the right moments and appreciate our creative interpretation of Jane Austen’s epic story? What message will they take away from it all?

While throwing my laundry into the dryer at home, a different set of questions about our cast wanders into my mind: Will our long nights spent at rehearsal pay off in the fluidity of our scenes? Will I forget a scene change and screw up someone’s blocking? Will I drop a line and dampen the integrity of Hallie’s script?

An epic battle ensues between Kitty and Lydia.

And the answers? …nobody knows.

Great. More anxiety.

Yet, among the wild unknown occupying space and igniting fear inside my brain, there is one small but significant piece that I can control: how I react to it.

Arguably, I have two choices when deciding how to respond to my fear. I can:

  1. choose to resist; forcing nervous thoughts to the corners of my mind, creating a distant but condensed, and often overwhelming, form of my anxiety… or
  2. use it. Accept my nervous energy as a sign that this is something I care about deeply. Bottle that energy and transform it into a force propelling me to do the best that I can, and to appreciate each moment as it passes—the successes as much as the failures. With a big smile and a light heart, I can choose to embrace and even appreciate my own sense of fear. I can let go of self-inflicted pressure in favor of enjoying the experience.

So, with a resounding sense of confidence, I choose option #2.

I make this choice partly because I care about our audience, and feel that my energy-infused performance will help make the most of their experience, and partly because I care about our cast, and feel that my positive attitude will help make the most of their experience.

Kristin as Mary, Rachel as Kitty, Taylor as Lydia, and Terry as Mrs. Bennet.

…but mostly because, once this is all over, I know it will have passed by too fast. And I know that making a conscious choice to appreciate the distinct flavors of each fleeting moment as it passes is the only way I can possibly make the most of my experience.

And that is what it’s all about, anyway.

All of my love,

Kitty Bennet (aka Rachel Olmedo)

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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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On Being a Bingley

Being a Bingley is harder than it first appears.

Throwing lavish parties, entertaining guests, allowing tourists to walk through your house–managing an estate is tough.

Best friends forever. Charles and Fitzwilliam with their little sisters, Caroline and Georgiana.

Okay, well maybe not that tough. But being loaded does take a toll on a person’s personality. Luckily, Charles has a sweet naïveté. Unlike his sister and his best friend Darcy, Charles seems to not see class. He digs the Bennett sisters even though they are so much poorer than he. He’s a really fun character to play and this will be a great, yet faithful, adaptation of one of the most beloved books in history.

Barry Eitel as Mr. Bingley and Barnaby Williams as Mr. Darcy.

Thanks a lot to Hallie, Terry, and the rest of SLP. I was in their fall production of Mrs. Warren’s Profession and that was a fantastic experience. It’s great that the communtiy of San Leandro supports their local theatre so much. I hope everyone out there can come and see it!!

— Barry Eitel (Mr. Charles Bingley)

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Mothers, Daughters, Sisters

“Jane has, without exception, the sweetest temperament of anyone I have ever known. I often tell my other girls that they are nothing compared to her.” — Mrs. Bennet

We’re getting it all together at Pride and Prejudice rehearsals. Mrs. Bennet is so fun to play; so against my type…but she does remind me of one of my sisters! How can she be so mean to her daughters, and anyone else in earshot?! I guess she just doesn’t understand or care that other people have feelings! All her girls are so much fun, and so different from each other. But I know they’ll all find their way in the end…

Mary, Kitty, Lydia, and Mrs. Bennet admire Lydia's ring.

We’re going to have a lot of fun costuming this show; so many dresses…and military uniforms, too!

-Terry Guillory (Mrs. Bennet)

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Mary, Mary, Quite….Awkward

I know they say in theater that it is always easier to play a character who is the opposite of who you truly are. Well, no offense, but that is not how I felt the first time I read the script.  When I read the play for the first time all I could this was, “Wow. Mary Bennett is so…boring! I don’t even know where to start! She’s too serious and awkward.” Fortunately all that changed after the first rehearsal. My goal that night was to act so awkward that my director would ask me to tone it down. Thankfully, she didn’t and I couldn’t hold my laughter in all night long!

Mr. Bennet, Mary, and Jane

And it has been that way ever since! Mary’s awkwardness is the humor in the show, and I’m so glad I get to bring that to life. Don’t even get me started on her piano and singing skills! Let’s just say that you really do need to see the show for yourself to truly understand. I love my character and I hope to get the audience laughing as much as I do my fellow actors in the show. You’ve never known awkward until you’ve known Mary!

— Kristin Tavares (Mary Bennet)

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