BWW Reviews: Book-It's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE Will Jump Start Your Romance
Romantics the world over have loved the works of Jane Austen for centuries with her tales of loves lost and then found. And one of her best beloved is now on stage from Book-It Repertory Theatre with "Pride and Prejudice". And not only is it a wonderful adaptation filled with superb performances but, guys, take your dates to this one and you're bound to get lucky.
It's all about the Bennets. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet (Brian Thompson and Kimberly King) live a comfortable but not overly opulent life with their five daughters. There's the lovely Jane (Rebecca Olson), the clever Elizabeth (Jen Taylor), the bookish Mary (Sascha Streckel) and the silly Kitty and Lydia (Amy Danneker and Rachel Brow). So when the dashing and rich Mr. Bingley (Trick Danneker) moves into the estate nearby with his sister Miss Bingley (Kate Sumpter), Mrs. Bennet sees the perfectly opportunity to marry off one of her daughters into a wealthy family. But Mr. Bingley has also brought with him his friend, Mr. Darcy (Richard Nguyen Sloniker) who may be quite wealthy and handsome but is also very prideful and has no time for any frivolity and may put a damper on love finding its way. But when he meets the clever Miss Elizabeth his world is turned upside down. True, they both claim to hate each other but we all know how that goes in romantic comedies.
And that's what this is, one of the first RomComs. Love is in the air, two people claim to hate each other but find they feel just the opposite and hijinks ensue. OK well Austen is a little more complicated than that. There's no convenient bet to not have sex for 40 days (heaven forbid) and Miss Elizabeth is not writing an article on how to entrap a man. But really, all the standard RomCom tropes are there; love, sex (well implications of sex), misunderstandings and the big reveals. But it's no wonder since Austen laid the foundation for all those Hollywood hacks to build upon, which makes this a perfect date night.
Adapter and director Marcus Goodwin has assembled a wonderful cast and kept the snipes, barbs and comedy alive in the piece throughout all of the romance. Taylor and Sloniker play off each other beautifully with their constant insistence of dislike for the other making their eventual coupling (spoiler alert) all the more lovely. Equally heartwarming is the sweet relationship between Danneker and Olson both with their adorable awkwardness, especially Danneker who manages some wonderfully sweet awkward glances and moments. Thompson and King are also gorgeously paired with their hilarious counterpoints of attitude toward getting their daughters well situated. But every good love story needs and obstacle or four and those are deftly provided. Sumpter keeps her nose in the air and her tongue razor sharp throughout. King plays double duty also playing the disapproving Lady Catherine. John Bianchi is hysterically bumbling as the potential suitor Mr. Collins. And Connor Toms is deliciously slimy and duplicitous as the caddish Mr. Wickham.
All told the show is a solid winner and leaves you with a renewed sense of love and romance. And so with my three letter rating system I give this a contented sigh of a YAY. And trust me, if you have a romantically inclined girlfriend or boyfriend, do yourself a favor and take them to see this to show off your own romantic sensibilities. You'll thank me for it later.
"Pride and Prejudice" from Book-It Repertory Theatre performs at the Center Theatre at the Armory through December 28th. For tickets or information contact the Book-It box office at 206-216-0833 or visit them online at www.book-it.org.