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Timeless tale, Pride and Prejudice, opens Chemainus Theatre Festival 25th Anniversary Season­­ – By Michelle Vogelgesang

 
CHEMAINUS, BC – The first production of The Chemainus Theatre Festival’s 25th Season is the timeless Jane Austen tale, Pride and Prejudice. The story, originally published in 1813, has increasingly fascinated audiences by virtue of its memorable characters, ironic humour, and dramatic themes. See the five Bennet sisters search haplessly for love as they confront the ironic expectations of Regent society, the incorrigible manners of Mr. Darcy, and many other men of questionable intent. Janet Munsil’s adaptation of the celebrated Pride and Prejudice appears on the Festival stage from February 17 to March 25, 2017. Tickets are available now at 1-800-565-7738or chemainustheatre.ca.
 
Mrs. Bennet is certain: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” And thus we are rapidly swept into her mission – to see her five daughters married off, preferably to rich men, in order to protect the future of the family estate. The timing couldn’t be better for her plan to be fulfilled. The young, well-to-do, eligible Mr. Charles Bingley has arrived to stay in the town’s grand estate, along with his proud, condescending, and even wealthier unmarried friend, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. While Bingley takes an immediate liking to the eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, Darcy is disdainful of local society and repeatedly clashes with the Bennets’ lively second daughter, Elizabeth (who is equally wary of the expectations of aristocratic society, and of the strange suitors who begin to infiltrate her family).
 
“The action of Pride and Prejudice derives from a series of snap judgements” says director Julie McIsaac. “Its magic is spun from slow-dawning realizations and I hope you enjoy both its spark, and its enticing, enduring sweetness.” There are all the questions of romance, morality, education, and marriage that keep perplexing us today, delivered in a way that is true to Austen’s charm and elegance.
 
The many eccentric characters are played by a sensational Festival cast. In their primary roles are: Yoshié Bancroft is the smart, shrewd, and serious Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Bennet, who is grappling with the societal customs of the day. Brett Harris plays the handsome bachelor Mr. Darcy, who looks haughtily down on those who do not meet his extremely high standards. Chris Walters portrays innocent, gentle, commitment-challenged Mr. Bingley – possibly a perfect match for the lovely and very forgiving Jane Bennet, played by Melissa Morris. The comic matriarch Mrs. Bennet, who simply wants to see her daughters happy (and financially secure) is portrayed by Amy Lee Newman; her kind, long-suffering husband, Mr. Bennet, is played by Paul Terry. The charming but troublemaking Mr. Wickham is played by Erik Gow – and the equally bothersome cousin, Mr. Collins, is played by Matthew Hendrickson, who also plays Mr. Gardiner alongside Caitriona Murphy as Mrs. Gardiner. The other Bennet sisters are played by: Lindsay Warnock as silly, selfish Lydia; Kayla Dunbar as intelligent, plain Mary; Julie Casselman as young Kitty.
 
Creating the Regency period setting, the production team worked extensively to ensure that authenticity was considered in every way. From silks and laces to gilded set pieces, the ambiance is created by the design work of: Brian Ball, sets; Crystal Hanson, costumes; John Webber, lighting. Stage manager Anne Taylor and assistant stage manager Mel Watkins coordinate rotating scenes of grand balls, home life, and country walks. Adding to the atmosphere are musical interludes directed by Melissa Morris, and dance scenes choreographed by Kayla Dunbar, whose contribution recreates the social merriment of the period. The particular English wit and style of Austen’s dialogue is delivered with precision under the direction of dialect coach, Brett Harris.
 
Pride and Prejudice is an impressive and humorous play that is easy to enjoy even two centuries after it was published. See the enduring story come to life at evening and matinee shows from February 17 to March 25, 2017. Reserve a seat by calling the Box Office at 1-800-565-7738, or online at chemainustheatre.ca.
 
Show enhancements are available, and include: free “talk-backs” with the cast and crew following Wednesday performances; a special show-themed dinner add-on in the contemporary Playbill Dining Room (featuring an impressive hot buffet, fresh salad bar, and tempting desserts); a full “Getaway” package at the Best Western Plus Chemainus Inn (which includes accommodations, show dinner, deluxe breakfast buffet, use of the indoor mineral pool, hot tub and fitness centre).
 
Directed by  Julie McIsaac
Choreographer/Dance Captain – Kayla Dunbar
Musical Director – Melissa Morris
Set Designer – Brian Ball
Costume Designer – Crystal Hanson
Lighting Designer – John Webber
Stage Manager – Anne Taylor
Assistant Stage Manager – Mel Watkins
Starring:  Yoshié Bancroft, Julie Casselman, Kayla Dunbar, Erik Gow, Brett Harris, Matthew Hendrickson, Melissa Morris, Caitriona Murphy, Amy Lee Newman, Paul Terry, Chris Walters, and Lindsay Warnock.
 
The Chemainus Theatre Festival, est. 1992, is a professional performing arts destination on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The non-profit charitable Society offers a continuous season of regionally- and internationally-acclaimed theatre to over 70,000 residents and visitors every year. From the purely dramatic to the musically enriched, The Festival’s roster of shows feature an entertaining selection of classic and contemporary tales, told in romantic, comedic, tragic and more enjoyable styles. Dedicated to serving versatile interests of audiences and artists, The Festival has attracted talented guest actors, directors, musicians and designers from across North America – a testament to their highly regarded theatrical productions and facilities. Theatregoers can complete their theatre experience with a delightful meal in the Playbill Dining Room. Before each show, live music creates the perfect setting for diners to indulge in the impressive show-themed buffet. The on-site Gallery Gift Shop showcases over one hundred BC artisans, and is a wonderful place for art-lovers and shoppers to browse, and take home, a memorable piece of the west coast.
 
For more information, please contact:
Michelle Vogelgesang
Marketing & Sales Director