A novel approach to theater

Parkland putting on production of 'Pride and Prejudice'

CHAMPAIGN — Joi Hoffsommer read four stage adaptations of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" before settling on Jon Jory's.

She liked it because it's the most theatrical.

"It gleans the charm and the fun," said the artistic director of the theater program at Parkland College.

The Parkland Theatre will present Jory's adaptation of the romantic comedy, with Hoffsommer directing, starting tonight. To Hoffsommer's knowledge, it will be the first community theater presentation in this area of an adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice," first published in 1813.

The Parkland Theatre is presenting the play now because of the 200th anniversary of the release of the book — and because the college wanted to mount a period piece for students to work on.

"It just seemed very timely, and this is such a favorite of so many, and it's just fun," Hoffsommer said. "It's a great story."

Indeed. Though set in the 19th century, the famed novel remains at the top of lists of beloved books, has become a staple in literature classes and has seen numerous stage and film adaptations.

As usual, the Parkland Theatre cast features a mix of students and community members. Thom Miller, a lecturer in the University of Illinois Department of Theatre, portrays the romantic lead of Mr. Darcy. Playing opposite him, as Elizabeth Bennet, is Chelsea Zych, a technical writer at the UI who studied William Shakespeare and Renaissance literature in performance at the master's level at Mary Baldwin College.

The theater gives this plot synopsis:

"Finding a husband is hardly Elizabeth Bennet's most urgent priority. But with four sisters, an overzealous, matchmaking mother and a string of unsuitable suitors, it is difficult to escape the subject.

"When the independent-minded Elizabeth meets the handsome but enigmatic Mr. Darcy, she is determined not to let her feelings triumph over her own good sense — but the truth turns out to be more slippery than it seems.

"In a society where subtle snubs and deceit proliferate, is it possible for Elizabeth and Darcy to look beyond his pride and her prejudice, and to make the best match of all?"

Rounding out the cast are Randy Offner as Mr. Bennet; Mary Rose Cottingham, Mrs. Bennet; Stephanie Swearingen, Jane Bennet; Dominique Allen, Mary Bennet; Olivia Bagan, Kitty Bennet; Arianne Cohen, Lydia Bennet; and Ranae Wilson, Carlotte Lucas.

Hoffsommer said the play runs 2 hours 20 minutes, counting intermission.

"It's very spare for a novel adaptation," she said.

If you go

What: Parkland Theatre presents Jon Jory's stage adaptation of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice"

When: 7:30 p.m. today, Friday, Saturday and Nov. 21-23; 3 p.m. Nov. 24

Where: Parkland Theatre, 2400 W. Bradley Ave., C

Tickets: $14 for adults; $12 for students and senior citizens 55 and older; $8 for children 12 and younger (tickets for groups of 15 or more are $10 each; opening night tonight is "pay what you can night;" tickets are half-price for the Nov. 21 performance)

Reservations: http://www.parkland.edu/theatre; 351-2528

Topics (2):Books, Theater

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