La Mirada, CA—The very first time bachelor socialite and catch of the century Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Brandon Andrus) actually broke a smile intended for Elizabeth Bennet, (second eldest next to Jane) daughter of the Bennet five, in Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice A Musical” now making a world premiere on stage at La Mirada Theatre for Performing Arts through My 10th, was close to the end of Act I.
Elizabeth (Patricia Noonan) has a regal elegance with a quick wit to match so much so that any eligible bachelor would be proud to have her name on his dance card. Darcy, who is at the same ball given by Mr. Bingley (Eddie Egan) who has an eye out for sister Jane (Samantha Eggers), finds himself very attracted to Elizabeth but fails to act on it.
He is too proud, arrogant and full of himself to see through his own bluster though to acknowledge it. As their paths keep crossing, both Elizabeth and Darcy examine, re examine and over think their feelings toward one another until finally, as I used to say of my own, ‘she chased him until he caught her’.
The Bennet family, as most will recall in Jane Austen’s turn of the century novel on manners, “Pride and Prejudice”, revolves around the off kilter parents (Amanda Naughton and Gregory North) and their quest to marry off their five very different in personality, disposition, looks and talent, daughters at a time when it was deemed necessary to ‘marry within your class’.
The Bennet’s were just a tad below the Darcy’s in class and finances This prompted all those in their outer circles to interfere and add their two cents. These characters included the ridiculous Mr. Collins (Jeff Skowron). He threatened to evict the Bennet’s from the family estate if Elizabeth did not marry him.
Fortune hunter and shallow cad, George Wickham (Matthew Kacergis) who unsuccessfully wooed Elizabeth, dropped off the radar but later seduces and defiles Lydia Bennet. Darcy comes to the rescue and intervenes to save the younger and unruly Lydia’s reputation.(Arlee Fishman).
Not one to leave matters alone Lady Catherine De Bourgh (Amanda Naughton) Darcy’s arrogant and snooty aunt tries to interfere, but things have already taken positive turn for the young lovers.
All have their say and every character stays true to form in this most popular of Austen’s novels, whicht makes watching it through Jane’s eyes ever the more entertaining and charming.
Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs’ Music, Lyric and Book) musical rendering of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” follows the trajectory of Austen’s novel with a quick detour in the telling with Jane (Bets Malone) as both story teller and onlooker to her own story and her yet to be completed novel.
It’s a novel idea that works well with the talented Malone (She won the San Diego Theatre Critics Award For Best Female Actor in a drama last year for outstanding portrayal of Diana in “Next To Normal” in San Diego’s Musical Theatre production.), who is on stage for the entire production, singing “Meeting Mr. Collins”, “Not Romantic” and “Had I Been In Love” as well as reacting to rewrites she has to make in the story line because some scenes just don’t work.
The story opens with Jane and her sister Cassandra (Jill Van Velzer) discussing the success of her first book, “Sense and Sensibility” and her lack of another successful book to be published.
Cassandra nudges Jane to take another look at an older rendering of “P&P” and what finally emerges is a plot outline for a new version called “First Impressions”, which we see unfolding as Jane’s personal love story mingles with the loves and lives of those in “Pride and Prejudice”. “Choices”.
Baker (Music, Lyric, Book/additional vocal arrangements and Jacobs (Music, Lyrics, Book/Orchestrations and Arrangement) along with director Igor Goldin seem to have a formula for moving past the traditional big blockbuster musicals. And while this reviewer did not leave the theatre humming, some favorites included: “Choices”, “Had I been In Love”, “Fine Eyes”, “My Dream” and “The Portrait Song”.
By putting a new twist on a big canvas idea and bringing it down to a manageable size and mounting a developing story using minimal but effective sets (Josh Zangen) is no easy task as we watch everything fall into place seamlessly. Jeffry Denman’s choreography fits right in period as well as the soldier’s drills and dance sequences and Jason Lyon’s gorgeous lighting designs work miracles changing colors on sets, costumes and hair.
Utilizing an outstanding and talented cast of musical theatre professionals with a thirteen member orchestra in the pit under the baton Timothy Splain makes “Pride and Prejudice” a satisfying new work that’s both entertaining and charming from start to finish.
In the words of Jane Austen, “It is universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of good fortune, must be in want in a wife”.
We’ve come a long way baby.
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through May 10th
Organization: La Mirada Theatre For The Performing Arts
Production Type: Musical
Where: 14900 La Mirada Blvd. La Mirada CA, 90638
Ticket Prices: Start at $20.00