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Review: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley

An overall sweet tale of two sisters coming of age, which is universal and spans the tests of time.

Review: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley

Sense and Sensibility

Book, music and lyrics by Paul Gordon

Based on the novel by Jane Austen

Directed by Robert Kelley

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley

So very nice to be able to write Directed by Robert Kelley. The TheatreWorks founder retired in 2020 after being awarded a well-deserved 2019 Regional Tony award and given his long history with Paul Gordon, he's back at the helm of this sumptuous, meticulously crafted production. No stranger to TheatreWorks, Gordon received a Tony nomination for the Broadway musical of Jane Eyre, then moved onto the world premiere of Pride and Prejudice at TheatreWorks in 2019 and Austen's EMMA.

Sense and Sensibility is a Regency period romantic tale of two sisters, the elder Elinor (sense) and her impulsive sister Marianne (the sensibility) as they maneuver through the patriarchal world of financial control and cultural constrictions. The storylines with their trials and tribulations predate modern soap operas and while they seem tame by contemporary standards, Austen was one of the trailblazers of feminist thought. While the women inhabiting this era are basically chattel to their men, free thought and sexual awareness are developed.

Review: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley
L-R - Fanny (Melissa WolfKlain) and Elinor Dashwood (Sharon Rietkerk) are visited at Norland by Edward Ferrars (Darrell Morris Jr.), as John Dashwood (Nick Nakashima - back)

Gordon's lovely score advances the story seamlessly and includes the marvelous "Rain" and "Wrong Side of 5 and 30". Under the musical direction of William Liberatore, the orchestrations support the excellent cast. Technically, this production is everything we've come to expect from TheatreWorks- incredible costumes by Fumiko Beilefeldt, lighting by Steven B. Mannshardt, scenic design by Joe Ragey and sound by Jeff Mockus.

Review: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley
The happy couples (l to r: Noel Anthony, Antoinette Comer, Sharon Rietkerk, and Darrell Morris Jr.)

Set amongst wiry filigree and projection cameos, the Dashwood sisters, Antoinette Comer as Marianne and Sharon Rietkerk as Elinor encounter new loves: the unscrupulous Willoughby (Hunter Ryan Herdlicka), the sensitive Colonel Brandon (Noel Anthony) and the befuddled Edward Ferrars (Darrell Morris Jr.). Excellent supporting actors (Mellissa WolfKlain, Nick Nakashima, Lucinda Hitchcock Cone, Colin Thompson, Sonya Balsara. Michelle Skinner and Jamie Gussman) round out this excellent cast.

Review: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley
A convivial picnic scene

Sense and Sensibility is a product of its time in its morality and clear delineations between the sexes. There's rich and poor, privileged and indigent, intelligent and uneducated. Overall, it's a sweet tale of two sisters coming of age, which is universal and spans the tests of time.

Sense and Sensibility continues through April 3rd, 2022. Tickets available at TheatreWorks.org or by calling 877-662-8978.

Photo credit: Kevin Berne



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