For Immediate Release
September 28, 2011
Wenham, MA—Two years from now, fans of Jane Austen’s classic storyPride and Prejudice will celebrate the 200th anniversary of its publishing. But the Gordon College Theatre Department has officially begun the festivities with its fall production of Joanna Norland’s new play Lizzie, Darcy and Jane, commemorating not only Austen’s writing contributions but premiering Norland’s play in the United States.
The show opens October 21 in the Margaret Jensen Theatre in the Barrington Center for the Arts at Gordon and runs through October 29, with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday matinees at 4:30 p.m.
“We had thought of waiting a year to produce this show because of the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice,” said Jeffrey S. Miller, professor of theatre arts and director of Lizzie, Darcy and Jane. “But with so many great women’s roles and such rich language, we decided this would be a great opportunity for our students and our community to be the first to tell this story on an American stage.”
Miller discovered the play a few years ago on one of Gordon’s global education theatre trips to England. He was browsing through a bookstore, picked up a copy of the play and was intrigued at how the playwright integrated Jane Austen’s real-life events into interesting characters. In Lizzie, Darcy and Jane Norland speculates about the story behind Austen’s writing of the classic novel. It includes her family circumstances, her poverty and even how a broken engagement sent her into such despair she stopped writing.
When Miller decided to produce the play and received permission from the publishing company, Norland found out and contacted Miller to see if there was anything she could help with. The director and the playwright even met in London this past August while Miller accompanied another of the theatre arts trips there.
“I think Joanna was intrigued that a man was directing her play,” Miller said. “But this is a show that explores important themes for women and men, themes like what it means to be true to your calling and gifts even when you’re confronted with heartbreak and disappointment. I’m hopeful women will come and bring the men in their lives so they’ll see how insightful Austen was about all kinds of human relationships.”
The show stars Bekah Jordan ’12 as Jane, Kelsie Davidson ’12 as Elisabeth, and Chris Preyer ’12 as Mr. Darcy. Other cast members include David Alvarado ’14, Olivia King ’14, Sarah Hand ’15 and Chole Eaton ’15. Supporting Miller’s direction, Christine Alger is the costume designer; Amber Primm, manager of BCA, has designed the set and is the production manager. Carissa Gerber is the scenic and props artisan, and Russ Swift is lighting designer.
“If women had been allowed to write for the theatre at that time in England, Austen’s wit and agility with language would have put her squarely in the tradition of Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw,” Miller said. “My hope is that this show awakens a new interest in Austen in time for the celebration of one of her greatest books.”
The show runs October 21–22 and 25–29. Tickets for Friday and Saturday evening performances are $10 regular admission, $8 for students, seniors, and Gordon faculty/staff. Tickets for Tuesday–Thursday shows and for Saturday matinees at 4:30 p.m are $7 regular admission, $5 students, seniors, and Gordon faculty/staff. The show is two hours with an intermission. For additional ticket information, please see the Gordon Theatre Schedule page.
Gordon College is a multidenominational Christian college of the liberal arts and sciences on Boston’s North Shore, offering majors in 38 fields with graduate programs in education and music education. Gordon is nationally recognized for excellence in academics and in character building, and ranks as one of the nation’s top Christian colleges. www.gordon.edu