Imagine you’re a 15-year-old high school girl encountering Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” for the first time.
That’s what audiences at South Coast Repertory will be doing tonight through Oct. 9, as the theater stages “Pride and Prejudice,” adapted by veteran theater artistic directors Joseph Hanreddy and J. R. Sullivan, and directed by Kyle Donnelly.
This fast-moving adaptation by incorporates two turntables and stunning video projections as it takes audiences to the splendid mansions and gorgeous gardens of 1800s England. Donnelly came up with the unique framing device that will allow audiences to see the story through the eyes of a 15-year-old girl reading the novel for the first time.
But the production’s heart remains the love story that has charmed readers for nearly 200 years. It centers on a bustling, enthusiastic – and discombobulated – family. They’re the Bennets: the terribly silly but determined Mrs. Bennet, her bemused but doting husband, and their five daughters, all of marriageable age.
When a wealthy young man and his handsome friend turn up in the neighborhood, the daughters are agog, with one exception. The beautiful (and independent) Elizabeth has no interest in the handsome (and enigmatic) Mr. Darcy, who is equally aloof. And that’s what captures our imagination as we hope for love to triumph.
“As I was thinking about this production, I asked myself, ‘What is it about this story that endures?’” Donnelly said. “It’s this notion of finding someone who loves you for who you really are.”
Dana Green (seen in SCR’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”) stars as lively, headstrong Elizabeth, who reluctantly realizes she’s falling for the gruff, handsome Mr. Darcy, played by Corey Brill (“Cabaret” national tour).
Jane Carr (Broadway’s “Mary Poppins”) plays Elizabeth’s discombobulated mother, and Randy Oglesby (SCR’s “Ridiculous Fraud”) is her long-suffering father. SCR regular Kandis Chappell (“Collected Stories”) stars as Mr. Darcy’s formidable aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
Donnelly has been a director for 30 years, working in many of America’s top regional theatres. She most recently directed “Groundswell” at The Old Globe, where she also helmed “Opus,” “Orson’s Shadow” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” She is a former Associate Artistic Director of Arena Stage.
Tickets are $20-$68. For showtimes and tickets, call 714-708-5555 or visit scr.org. Post-show discussions with members of the cast will follow the performances of Sept 21 and Sept. 27.