"Pride and Prejudice" is a beloved story, receiving film and stage treatments for generations. Though the story is virtually the same, Thomas’ Pride and Prejudice follows Austen’s novel about the unwed Bennet sisters and their pursuit for love. Thomas includes nearly every major and minor character of Austen’s story for his stage production, something that seems to be one of the very many downfalls of this show. The score, for the most part, remains pretty consistent and alike stylistically. Thomas gives practically every character their own number, many of which do not further the story at all. These fluff songs could easily be eliminated to cut much needed and valuable time. The sound Thomas uses is reminiscent of the Golden Age of Broadway mixed with a tinge of Gilbert and Sullivan. The only song that seems out of place is Jane’s Act II number as it had a bit more of a modern vibe comparatively. While music is the draw of a musical, nothing can kill a show more than a vapid or over-stuffed book. The draw of "Pride and Prejudice" is the will they-won't they romance between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. And when adapting it for the stage, this needs to be the dramaturgical focus. As far as subplots and minor characters are concerned, if they don't directly have anything to do with forwarding Lizzie and Darcy's story, they're not necessary on stage. Thomas’ musical adaptation spends too much time with the less important plots that it's no wonder the production surpasses a long third hour. Not every single moment from the book needs to be recreated on stage. Taking liberties is not necessarily a bad thing.
With bad material, finding standout performances from the acting company was like finding a diamond in the rough. Thankfully, there were a few. Rebecca Knowles and Hallie Wage as Lydia and Kitty Bennet respectfully brought the full package. As the giddy bouncy sisters, Knowels and Wage made their characters real and invigorating, something the rest of the drab ensemble could not do. There were some wonderful vocals from Britney Simone as Mary, Stephanie Leone as Jane, and Chris Donovan as Mr. Bingley. Casting a pair of impeccable leads as Elizabeth and Darcy is crucial. If you don’t care for them, the piece is over. Sadly, neither Amanda Yachechak or Jonathan Fox Powers could deliver worthy performances. Yachechak did not have the fervor for the mighty sister. Powers, like many of the men of the show, was charming-lite. Their lack of chemistry was solidified at the end of the show with their long, awkward kiss.
|photo courtesy of Peter Welch|
When “Pride and Prejudice” plays closer to a Gilbert and Sullivan comedy than an epic romance, something is wrong. This production of Pride and Prejudice needs assistance in the slicing and dicing of fluff material in order to something of note. But with stiff competition, it may already be a losing battle.