Company Of Fools Presents MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY
This holiday season, Company of Fools (COF) continues the "Welcome to the Family" theme of its 24th season with a production of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley - a charming "imagined sequel" to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice that focuses attention on the bookish, dutiful middle Bennet sister, Mary, and picks up the action two years after the novel's end. The play, co-written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, is directed by COF Producing Artistic Director Scott Palmer and will run Dec. 11-29 at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey.
Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley has received critical acclaim across the globe; in fact, it is one of the most produced plays of the last two years. Set in England in 1815, the play finds the Bennet sisters gathering to celebrate Christmas at Pemberley, the stately home of Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Amid all of the festivities, Mary Bennet, the fiercely intelligent but somewhat awkward middle sister, finds herself (yet again) the odd sister out. While her two older siblings, Jane and Elizabeth, are happy and secure in their marriages, and while Lydia (the younger, irrepressible Bennet sister) takes every opportunity to brag about her exciting big-city life, Mary is left alone facing an uncertain future. Into this cauldron of frayed English manners walks Arthur de Bourgh, a young single man "in possession of a good fortune" but also interested only in reading scientific textbooks. As Mary gets to know Arthur, her hopes for independence and for an intellectual match seem close to being fulfilled, but, as in any Austen novel, the route to love and marriage is never quite so simple.
"Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon's international theatrical hit is a celebration of love, family, and being who you truly are ... even in the face of social and familial pressures," said COF's Producing Artistic Director Scott Palmer, who is also directing Miss Bennet. "It is an energetic, witty, delightful, romantic holiday play that focuses not only on personal transformation but also on what many critics have called 'a Regency era, Jane Austen-geek love story!'"
COF's production of Miss Bennet brings together a group of artists both familiar and brand-new to the Wood River Valley. Audiences will remember Neil Brookshire (Fitzwilliam Darcy) from COF productions of Constellations, Proof, Peter and the Starcatcher, Enchanted April and Woman in Black; Cassandra Bissell (Elizabeth Darcy) from COF productions of Constellations and Proof; and Chris Carwithen (Arthur de Bourgh) from COF productions including ART, Life Sucks, Almost, Maine, Clybourne Park, and Woody Guthrie's American Song. Joining these Liberty Theatre veterans are newcomers Orion Bradshaw (who has performed regionally with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Rep, and Portland Center Stage) as Charles Bingley; Kayla Kelley (who has performed with Bag&Baggage, Orphicplays, and Portland Playhouse) as Mary Bennet; and Alexis Ulrich (a soon-to-be graduate of the University of Idaho, where she performed in Shakespeare In Love, Sister Act, and The Crucible) as Lydia Wickham.
COF is also thrilled to welcome Jesse Dreikosen as Scenic Designer for the show. Jesse is the Head of Design and Technology at the University of Idaho, and is also the National Chair of Design, Technology and Management for The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Jesse has designed across the country, including for The Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, and dozens more. This will be Jesse's first show with the Fools, and his involvement is the first of many collaborations that the Fools have planned with the University of Idaho's theatre program.
The rest of the Miss Bennet creative team includes Melissa Heller (costume designer); K.O. Ogilvie (production stage manager); Lynne Hartman (lighting designer); Patrick Szczotka (technical director); Tess Makena (stage manager) and Chris Henderson (production assistant).
Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley is appropriate for the whole family (age 10 and older) and runs approximately two hours, with one 15-minute intermission.
Tickets may be purchased online at sunvalleycenter.org, by phone at 208.578.9122 or at the Liberty Theatre box office starting one hour before curtain. COF's box office is located at the Liberty Theatre, 110 N. Main Street in Hailey, with hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. All seats are reserved, except for the "Pay What You Feel" preview.