Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Pride And Prejudice"

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entire contents copyright 2007 by Tony Annicone

"Pride And Prejudice"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

URI's final show of their season is the Rhode Island Premiere of "Pride and Prejudice" a Jon Jory adaptation of Jane Austin's novel. Written in 1813, the story depicts events, society and romance of that era. The five Bennet sisters, through their individual personalities, relationship to one another, their parents, societal acquaintances from all classes and finally their love interests reveal the manners and mores, the wit, pangs of the heart and the spunk of Austen's characters. By law in 1813, the Bennet woman cannot inherit their father's estate and so, the task of finding a suitable mate rests not only with them but with their loving and ingenious parents. The misunderstandings of a most intelligent and attractive Elizabeth Bennet and her nemesis, the equally attractive, but mysterious Mr. Darcy, becomes an intriguing dance of pride and prejudice in this multi-layered romantic show. Until both Elizabeth and Darcy can truly see without blinders, can release their short-sightedness about other people as well as about each other, neither can be open to the grace of true love. In finally acknowledging their limitations they capture the hearts of the audience as well as each others. Director Bryna Wortman casts 16 talented students in 25 different roles in this show and their British accents are impeccable. The finishing touches to create the 1813 era are the wonderful set by Cheryl deWardener and the multitude of gorgeous costumes designed and made from scratch by David T. Howard which brings the audience back to early nineteenth century England in all its grandeur.

Playing the leads roles of Darcy and Elizabeth are Patrick D. Cullen and Kristen T. Casey. Patrick is tall, dark and handsome as the standoffish romantic lead. Once the audience understands his motives for his actions that upset Elizabeth, his acting prowess convinces both Elizabeth and them of his worthiness to become her husband. Patrick has played a role in three of the URI shows this season and he shows his diversity in each of them. Kristen is a beautiful, petite brunette who plays this strong willed woman of the 1800's with spunk, giving her a mind and voice of her own which was very unique for its time. The sparring verbal scenes between Darcy and Elizabeth sparkle with wit and cleverness, making the beauty of their romantic moments into very satisfying conclusion.

Playing Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are Nick Foehr and Leah Kolb. His character is staid and in control of his emotions while Mrs. Bennet's character is larger than life. Leah has many funny lines and is a whirlwind of energy in this role. Her infectious laughter and line delivery liven up many a scene throughout the play. Crystal Guilbert who played a old woman in "Buried Child", plays the youngest daughter, Lydia in this show and has some of its funniest lines. She is a hoot as a girl who is anxious to get married before her older sisters and enjoys life to the fullest. Lydia eventually runs off to be with a shady army officer. George Wickham, another tall, dark and handsome man, played by Kyle Blanchette. Kyle does a wonderful job as thid seemingly nice person with some secrets in his past. He gets a chance to show off Wickham's cad-like behavior before becoming a reformed married man. The eldest sister, Jane is warmly played by pretty blond, Elyssa Baldassarri who has the audience in the palm of her hand. Her eventual husband, Mr. Bingley is played humorously by Joe Kidawski, another matinee idol looking actor. His wooing of Jane to win her back is hilarious as he reenters the scene several times to go out on several dates with her as well as stumbling into the chairs when he gets ready to ask her father's permission to marry her. Playing Bingley's devious sister is pretty blond haired, Erin Condry. Her character plots against Elizabeth and Darcy's involvement as well as persuading her brother to dump Jane for another woman. Erin also plays the Bennet's sympathetic aunt. Benjamin Gracia plays her deaf husband beautifully, garnering laughter while doing so.

Playing the heir to the Bennet fortune, Parson Collins, is Ahmed Bharoocha. His smarmy character wants to marry one of the daughters as the heir but none of them are interested in him at all. Ahmed is very comical in this role of social misfit. He eventually marries Elizabeth's best friend, Charlotte played by Sara Sheets who also plays the bookworm Bennet sister, Mary. Autumn Gillette is the next to the youngest sister, Kitty who loves the boys as much as Lydia does. Other performers in the show include Nile Hawver as Darcy's cousin,Colonel Fitzwilliam and Charlotte's father, Elise Petrarca who plays Darcy's mean spirited rich dowager aunt as well as the sympathetic housekeeper and Tyler Fischer, who did a dynamite job as Vince, the grandson in "Buried Child", plays Wickham's fellow officer, a servant and a guest at the Ball. The dancing at the Ball was choreographed by Carol Pegg and is a reflection of Darcy and Elizabeth's dancing around their true feelings for each other. So for a trip back to the seldom visited time period of the early 1800's, catch "Pride and Prejudice" to see some topnotch acting by college age performers.

"Pride And Prejudice" (19 - 28 April)
UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND
499 High Street, CENTRAL FALLS RI
1 (401)874-5843

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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