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Pride and Prejudice in Milwaukee

The Rep Theater in Milwaukee, WI is performing a new stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. The adaptation was done by Joseph Hanreddy, The Rep’s Artistic Director, and J.R. Sullivan, this production’s director.

Overall I thought it was pretty good and definitely had a fun time at it last night.

The scenery was beautifully done, for those of you who aren’t familiar with The Rep, the way its primary theater is designed prevents use of a stage curtain, actors enter and exit from all sides of the stage and there is very little that can be done as far as changing scenery. This show used the same primary props for all two hours and forty minutes and managed to convincingly portray Longbourn, the Meryton Assembly Rooms, Lucas Lodge, Netherfield, Hunsford Parsonage, Rosings Park and Pemberley as unique locations through changing light fixtures and moving simple props and a few pieces of furniture.

As for the acting, Mr. Collins, played by Brian Vaughn one of The Rep’s resident actors, was my favorite. He hit his character perfectly. One thing the script writers did which I thought was particularly inspired was showing Mr. Collins proposing to (and being accepted by) Charlotte Lucas, using the same speech he had just used to propose to Elizabeth. The idea is fabulous and Mr. Vaughn’s performance in both scenes made it even better.

I would also like to commend Mr. Hanreddy and Mr. Sullivan for writing and Heidi Wermuth for portraying a Caroline Bingley who is a character rather than a caricature. She was snobbish and conniving without being over the top, making her totally believable as a character.

The other actors in this production should also be commended for their work, so many of them had their characters down so well that I will only mention the leads, Lee Stark as Elizabeth Bennet and Grant Goodman as Fitzwilliam Darcy, both of whom did an excellent job with their characters and who were well supported by their fellow actors.

My largest complaint concerning the production/script is in regards to an ongoing joke that Mr. Gardiner kept making about Lambton, the first time it was somewhat funny and kind of cute, however, it became less funny with each repitition to the point that at the last repetition I think it detracted from an otherwise very good scene. I would recommend that the repetitions be cut from future productions.

While I will not say this is a perfect production or adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, it is an excellent one. If you are in the Milwaukee area before March 29, I definitely recommend seeing it. If you aren’t Mr. Sullivan will be taking over the post of Artistic Director for the Pearl Theatre Company in New York City in August 2009 and I hope he stages an encore performance.

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