Show Photographs

28th Festival Season - 2006

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

By: Amanda Jacobs and Lindsay Baker
World Premiere
Performance Dates:
  • July 14th, 2006 - 2:00pm
  • July 20th, 2006 - 2:00pm
  • July 25th, 2006 - 2:00pm
  • July 30th, 2006 - 2:00pm
  • August 5th, 2006 - 2:00pm
  • August 11th, 2006 - 8:00pm

What makes this production unique is that it exists in three worlds: Jane Austen's world; the world of Pride and Prejudice, where the characters live out their story; and the combination of these two worlds, as Jane Austen writes the story and interacts and is inspired by her characters. However, the musical is not a biography of Jane Austen. It is a story of Pride and Prejudice. It is a story of love: the love an author has for her characters and the love the characters have for one another. The character of Jane Austen also works as a transition device. In the span of a sentence, a year can pass, a location can change, or a new character can be introduced.

As she puts ink to paper, Jane Austen narrates her tale of Pride and Prejudice. She introduces Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, an upper-class couple in rural England, and their five eligible daughters. Mrs. Bennet is determined to marry them off, but the girls have no dowry. Jane solves the Bennets' dilemma by bringing Mr. Bingley, a wealthy young man, to the nearby estate of Netherfield Park. Mr. Bingley is enamored with the Bennets' eldest daughter, Jane, and is hopeful of soon seeing her happily married. As the story unfolds, we meet the snobby Mr. Darcy and the charming officer, Mr. Wickham.

The journey to the premiere of Pride and Prejudice has been one of love. The authors have tried to stay faithful to Jane Austen's story and words while translating it into an American genre of musical theatre. "Our hope is that the audience will leave the theatre, not only having enjoyed an evening of entertainment, but also inspired to go out and read the novel and discover for themselves the genius of Jane Austen." What a great way to introduce youngsters to one of the great classics.

Ohio Light Opera Brings 'Pride and Prejudice' to the Stage

Musical version opens at Freedlander Theatre on Friday, July 14

WOOSTER, Ohio � Jane Austen's moving love story comes to the stage for the first time when The Ohio Light Opera presents Amanda Jacobs and Lindsay Warren Baker's musical version of "Pride and Prejudice," which opens Friday, July 14 (2 p.m.), at The College of Wooster's Freedlander Theatre (329 E. University St.).

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." So begins Austen's love story that also serves as a critique of marriage. Set in the early 19th century English countryside, "Pride and Prejudice" follows Elizabeth Bennet, a stubborn and independent woman who rebels against the socially acceptable practice of marrying well, much to the chagrin of her overbearing mother. Love wins out in the end, and Elizabeth, played by Sara Gartland, finds herself captivated by a most unlikely suitor.

"Pride and Prejudice" has been adapted to the screen several times. In 1940, Sir Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson starred in Robert Z. Leonard's film version. Colin Firth starred in the 1995 BBC television version, and also stars with Renee Zellweger in "Bridget Jones's Diary," a film that shares several themes with Austen's original. In 2005, Kiera Knightley starred in the Oscar-nominated Joe Wright-directed version.

In addition to telling the love story of "Pride and Prejudice", the Jacobs-Baker musical version follows the life of the author, Jane Austen, played by Jill Anna Ponasik. "Jane Austen narrates and becomes part of the characters," said Steven Daigle, OLO's Artistic Director and the director of "Pride and Prejudice."

"This is a wonderful piece," added Daigle. "It has real potential in the future." While there is a correlating historical feel to this operetta, compared with the company's other productions, "Pride and Prejudice" � infused with Beethoven and Brahms � has "a more classical edge."

Daigle said he found out about the show through a colleague in Rochester, N.Y., where he is an associate professor of opera and head of Eastman Opera Theater Department. He accelerated the project by bringing it to a workshop at Eastman. The workshop show lasted 3 hours and 40 minutes � "a really long time for operetta," said Daigle. After the workshop, Jacobs and Baker did a total revision and brought the running time down to 2 hours and 30 minutes. "The piece was work-shopped with piano," said Daigle. "The OLO production is a professional premiere with an orchestra."

For the first time at Ohio Light Opera there will be a turntable � a large circular, rotating platform, on stage. While Daigle said this is a technical challenge, he maintains that it is an important part of the plot. "There are several important scenes in the story that occur while Elizabeth is walking," he said. "I wanted to have an environment where I could show that."

While Daigle said the plot is faithful to the book and at times the dialogue is directly lifted from the novel, the music explains what isn't there. "In her writing, Jane Austen was very brief, meaning she would tell her reader what was going on, but left it up to her audience to decide what the characters were feeling," said Daigle. "The music adds to the characters and allows us (the audience) to dive into their thought process."

If anything, Daigle said the audience is going to love the tunes. "Pride and Prejudice" is a very ballad-oriented show, similar in style and setting to Frances Hodgson Burnett's "The Secret Garden."

Article written by Laura McHugh
Production Team
ConductorJ. Lynn Thompson
Stage DirectorSteven Daigle
ChoreographerCarol Hageman
Assistant DirectorSandra Ross
Set DesignerKirk Domer
Costume DesignerCharlene Gross
Lighting DesignerKrystal Kennel
Jane AustenJill Anna Ponasik
Mr. BennetTed Christopher
Mrs. BennetJulie Wright
Jane BennetSarah Asmar
Elizabeth BennetSara Gartland
Mary BennetSahara Glasener-Boles
Kitty BennetDanielle McCormick
Lydia BennetKarla Hughes
Mr. William CollinsTyler Nelson
Charlotte LucasElizabeth Mitchell
Mr. Charles BingleyAdam Lloyd
Caroline BingleyKemper LeCroy Florin
Louisa HurstAshly Evans
Mr. Fitzwilliam DarcyJoseph Valone
Mr. George WickhamPatrick Howle
Lady Catherine De BourghSandra Ross
Mrs. GardinerRobin DeLeon
Mr. GardinerSteven Daigle
Mrs. ReynoldsClaire Maloney
Lady LucasValerie Hart Nelson
Colonel FitzwilliamTyler Oliphant
Georgiana DarcyAnne Marie Frohnmayer
Captain DennyBenjamin Robinson
Sir William LucasCory Clines
Anne De BourghDonata Cucinotta
Colonel ForsterNicholas Hartley
Mrs. ForsterStina Marie Eberhardt
Captain CarterMichael Denos
Women of the Ensemble: Sarah Asmar, Donata Cucinotta, Robin DeLeon, Stina Marie Eberhardt, Ashly Evans, Sahara Glasener-Boles, Karla Hughes, Kemper LeCroy Florin, Anne Marie Frohnmayer, Sara Gartland, Claire Maloney, Danielle McCormick, Elizabeth Mitchell, Valerie Hart Nelson, Jill Anna Ponasik, Sandra Ross and Julie Wright.
Men of the Ensemble: Ted Christopher, Cory Clines, Michael Denos, Nicholas Hartley, Patrick Howle, Adam Lloyd, Tyler Nelson, Tyler Oliphant, Benjamin Robinson, Mark Snyder, Brian Tanner and Joseph Valone