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Jane Austen, with her devilish sense of humor, must be in heaven above laughing at the attention her works continue to deserve. Modern screen adaptations of Austen’s books, from “Clueless” to “Bride and Prejudice,” continue to draw attention to her view of love.
In Austen’s eyes, romance is all the sweeter when it comes to money and excellent real estate. After all, according to “Pride and Prejudice”, it is a universally recognized truth that a single man in possession of good fortune must need a wife.
Melbourne Civic Theater presents another perspective on Austen with Kate Hamill’s adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility,” opening May 20.
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Hamill’s antics through English country mores engage a chorus of ‘gossip’, actors who play multiple roles and even serve to move the setting. The set is on wheels in MCT production.
“This version of the series is unique in that the direction is unlike anyone who’s seen in an adaptation of Austen,” said director Peg Girard.
“This isn’t your standard box set. Gossips are on stage watching the action, sometimes moving furniture around. Through the windows, horses and dogs watch.
In this show, sets are known to rush and spin around the stage, often with actors still dangerously attached to them. It’s not your great-great-great-grandmother’s Austen.
Hamill’s adaptation – his first full-length stage play – premiered in New York City at Manhattan’s Sheen Center in 2014. A box office and critical success, the play has since been embraced by professional theaters across the United States.
The original bones of the Regency era remain in this story of Dashwood sisters Elinor and Marianne as they navigate the turbulent waters of class, money and reputation when their father suddenly dies, upending their comfortable existence in the upper class.
A bit of rowdiness and plenty of exuberance propels the tale into the 21st century while paying homage to the author and the era that created it. Humorous and theatrically robust, the production still offers plenty of emotional depth.
The cast includes Bobbie Letmon as Elinor and Natalie Jones as Marianne. Adonna Niosi, Daniel San Ramon, Sarah Lawrence, Rachel Greshes, CJ Ward, Adam Lightfoot, Sony Jackson, Anna Grace Cornell and Steven Mogell play several supporting roles.
Alan Selby is light designer and technical director, and Wendy Reader is sound designer. Linda Lindsey is the on-set artist and the hair and wigs are designed by Jessica Foix.
Of course, if it’s Austen, there must be a bullet somewhere. And there is, choreographed by Heather McFarland.
Die-hard Jane Austen groupies and neophytes alike will revel in this unique “sense and sensibility,” which The New York Times called “a bouncy, flippant take on Austen.”
“Sense and Sensibility” is a comedy, so come and have fun… don’t be afraid!” says Girard.
If you are going to
‘Sense and sensibility’
Or: Melbourne Civic Theatre, 817 E. Strawbridge Ave., Melbourne
When: 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays until June 26. A Saturday morning was added on June 11.
On the Web: mymct.org
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