Tag Archives: Mr. Wickham

Backstage Book Club

Well, it’s here: the final weekend of Pride and Prejudice. If you’ve seen the play, or even seen it many times, you’ve laughed and cried along with all of us as we’ve brought Jane Austen’s story to life. Those who have been waiting for closing weekend are in for a real treat! We have a very full cast as we’re welcoming Nick back for our final two shows. That means you should get ready to fight for front row seats because no one wants to miss being serenaded by our lovely crooners.

Speaking of a full cast, it’s a wonder we can all fit backstage! Here’s an exclusive peek at the backstage world of Pride and Prejudice:

First, we concentrate on what’s important for the show. We set props, get ready for our scene changes, check our posted schedule, and double-check with our scene-change partners. We listen for prompts and cue from Steven in the the sound and light booth via intercom. There are leisurely costume changes, extremely quick costume changes, and make-up and hair re-touching (the boys keep their hair slicked down with pomade, and claim to be Dapper Dan men). If we have a moment to spare we help zip each other into or out of dresses or make sure suit collars are nice and straight – everyone needs help with their costumes at some point!

Barry, Scott, Terry, and Nick rehearse one of many scene changes.

If we’re not immediately needed on- or off-stage, we take a moment in the theater’s tiny kitchen to sit down, listen (and laugh) at the sound feed, read, study, snack, chat or just breathe. When we’re all packed into that tiny space we sometimes start to get a bit silly, leading to such backstage events as:

San Leandro Glee Club: There’s lots of music in our show, and we all like to sing along. So it’s no surprise that when everyone kept getting Gotye’s “Somebody that I Used to Know” stuck in their heads, we gave in and started singing. Barry (Mr. Bingley) even suggested a mash-up: “I Wanna Dance with Somebody that I Used to Know!” Rachel and Taylor (Kitty and Lydia) have even been coming up with a “Kittya” rap!

Amateur Theatrics: We’ve done/seen the show so many times now that we all know each other’s scenes very well, especially the most memorable ones (Lady Catherine’s scenes are big hits with us). Sometimes we even act out over-the-top versions of our favorite lines, such as everything Lady Catherine says and, for some reason, every time Charlotte mentions lemonade. (Apparently there’s now a entire dance number around my lemonade line. Our glee club is going to have to have it’s own performance.)

Danielle Gray (Caroline Bingley), Sarah Asarnow (Charlottoe Lucas), and Julio Oyola (Mr. Collins).

Backstage Book Club: After Danielle (Caroline Bingley), Julio (Mr. Collins) and I (Charlotte) realized we’d be offstage for much of Act II, the Backstage Bookclub was born! Our book of choice was “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins (perhaps a distant descendant?). Now that we’re done with the first book (and eagerly waiting to start the second) we plan to spend our last two meetings in discussion, just like any good book club!

This cast loves each other! Terry and Alex during one of our many after rehearsal excursions to The Englander.

Finally, we spend as much time as we can enjoying each other’s company. We’ve all become very close in the past few months working on our show, and it’s important to make the most *sniffle* of the last of our time together, backstage, putting on a play that makes us all unbelievably proud. I am so grateful to have been a part of this production, to have spent this time with such an incredible group of people. I know our last two shows are going to be the best we’ve ever done, and I am so excited to help make that happen. As long as I can get through that lemonade line, now that I know what’s going on backstage.

— Sarah Asarnow (Charlotte Lucas)

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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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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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The Multiple Role Playing Game

As a child, Jane Austen to me was synonymous with a long, boring British miniseries.  For as long as I can remember, my mother has been a die-hard Austen fan, and it took me until my early 20’s to give up the rebel act and discover the sheer joy and brilliance of her works for myself.  No other book but Pride and Prejudice has left me with the same feeling of utter bliss and satisfaction for having completed it.  To this day, I hold it as my firm favorite and as one of the greatest stories of all time, so I knew when my roommate Rachel (who plays Kitty) alerted me to auditions for a local P&P adaptation, I had to jump on board.

Georgiana and her big brother.

I have the privilege and responsibility of playing three roles in the show (in order of appearance): Lady Lucas (Charlotte’s mother/Mrs. Bennet’s go-to partner in gossip crime), Anne De Bourgh (Lady Catherine’s sickly daughter) and last but not least, the frequently mentioned yet scarcely seen Georgiana Darcy.

Although I have fewer lines than the show’s other characters, I’ve got plenty to work with. I won’t give too much away but let’s just say Hallie has had a bit of fun with her sickly Anne adaptation which I can’t wait to deliver for an audience.  I haven’t rehearsed for Lady Lucas yet but certainly look forward to stretching my acting muscles to find my inner middle-aged flibbertigibbet for the Meryton and Netherfield dance scenes!

As for Miss Georgiana Darcy, I love that her role is so crucial to the plot line, even if she doesn’t make her appearance until close to the end.  She is a character left to the reader/audience’s imagination, helped along by various, sometimes conflicting descriptions by Caroline Bingley, Mr. Wickham, and the Pemberley tour guide.  Her brother–Mr. Darcy himself–is the keenest clue we have to forming anything conclusive about what she might be like… but even that point of comparison can only serve to tell us superficial things like how she grew up, her level of etiquette, and good breeding.  Of course she turns out to be modest, sweet, and lovely as can be when we do finally meet her in the flesh… making the anticipation all the more worthwhile.  As someone who grew up with an older brother as my only sibling myself, I definitely identify with that personality-shaping dynamic, so it’s naturally the factor at the forefront of my mind when personifying her on stage.

Kristin House and Danielle Gray practice styling Laurie's hair in a 40's fashion.

Acting stuff aside, I’ve loved getting to know my fellow castmates–everyone is so talented and seems to fit his/her role seamlessly.  It’s so much fun observing the scenes coming together–particularly the ones highlighting the Bennet family at home in a 1940’s context.  I think Austen lovers in particular will get a kick out of seeing their favorite, flawed yet lovable Bennets in this setting.  April 14th can’t come soon enough!

–Laurie O’Brien (Lady Lucas, Anne de Bourgh, and Georgiana Darcy)

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