October 2016

Jane Austen’s Classic Pride & Prejudice : Arts Center opens season with the ultimate romantic comedy

Author: Andrea Gannon

Jane Austen fans, rejoice, because the Arts Center or Coastal Carolina’s 2016-17 season will kick off with the author’s most beloved work: Pride & Prejudice (October 4-23). Audiences will relish the wit, romance and emotional force expected from Austen, but in a refreshingly fast-paced and engaging new stage adaptation by Jon Jory, which honors the source material through a contemporary theatrical lens. That said, also expect all the grandeur of nineteenth century England as its backdrop.

Even if you’re not an avid Austen fan, the show is captivating from every vantage point. The plot revolves around the lovely and quick-witted Elizabeth Bennet, played by Magan Wiles, and her sister’s search for a husband, though that’s not Elizabeth’s priority at all. With her overzealous match-making mother, who craves a better social and financial standing, combined with a string of unsuitable suitors, it’s difficult to escape the subject.

Enter the handsome but enigmatic Mr. Darcy, played by Jonathan Holtzman, whom audiences will remember as “Moriarty” from the Arts Center’s Sherlock Holmes a couple of years ago. Elizabeth resolves not to let her feelings triumph over her own good sense, but that turns out to be a bit more difficult than she’d like. In British society, in an era when subtle snubs and deceit proliferate, this witty, romantic production brings this masterpiece vividly to life.

“We have a truly phenomenal cast,” said director Russell Treyz, in from New York City for the production. “We have two of our leads back from last year’s Inherit the Wind, Kurt Rhoads (Mr. Bennett) and Warren Kelley (Mr. Collins). Many will remember Kurt as Atticus from To Kill a Mockingbird at the Arts Center as well. Both are hugely talented actors, as are the other 12 performers in the show.”

The season opener for the Arts Center, this production marks the twenty-fifth show at the theater for Treyz. Along with special presentations, educational programs and community festivals throughout the year, the rest of the theater season includes White Christmas (Dec. 7-31), Leading Ladies (Feb. 7-26), Sister Act (Apr. 26-May 21), and Mamma Mia (June 14-Aug 6).

“The Arts Center has a magnificent season in store for the coming year, and what better way to kick it off than with Pride & Prejudice,” Treyz said.

Following previous years’ tradition of the Arts Center’s literary-themed opener, day-time field trips are planned for area schools, with students getting to see the show in its entirety, complete with a study guide for added insight.

Employing satire and a number of other literary devices, Austen brought her characters to life on the page—flaws and all—and those same beloved characters will transport audiences back in time and place, in the most delightful manner, making this production a feast to watch and a joy to experience.

Magan Wiles as Elizabeth Bennet and Jonathan Holtzman as Mr. Darcy

The design elements are as impressive as the story. The gorgeous period costumes were designed by Eloise Petro and custom-built by her and draper/cutter Hannah Dringenburg, while the music of that era was carefully researched by sound designer Warren Pace for added authenticity.

Set designer (and VP of production) Brian Riley’s fluid set allows swift movement from the elegant interiors to the bucolic English landscapes of the period, mimicking the smooth flow of the novel’s form.

This classic has been recreated for every medium—a testament to its timelessness and enduring popularity. Yet this stage adaptation produced by the Arts Center is as fresh as the morning dew on the English countryside. Come see what is truly the ultimate romantic comedy this October 4-23 at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. 

The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina is located at 14 Shelter Cove Lane, Hilton Head Island, adjacent to the entrance to Shelter Cove. Tickets for preview performances October 4-6 are $37 for adults and $27 for children 5-15. Regular tickets, October 7-23, are $47 for adults and $33 for children. Purchase tickets at the box office by calling (843) 842-ARTS (2787) or online at artshhi.com.

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