IMAGE: Olivia Abiassi & Terrell Donnell Sledge
Fun and Farcical Adaptation Features Talented Eight-Person Cast Doubling Up on Roles, And Doubling Down On Laughter While Busting Gender And Age Barriers While Highlighting Themes As Relevant Today As They Were When Austen Wrote Them in the 19th Century
Estefanía Fadul To Direct Production, Opening July 12 at the Ruth Caplin Theatre
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – May 23, 2019 – You may have seen or read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but this summer, Heritage Theatre Festival’s got news for you: You’ve never seen it quite like this!
HTF will present Kate Hamill’s acclaimed farcical reimagining of the beloved classic, opening on July 12 at the Ruth Caplin Theatre. The fun-filled, fast-paced farce, directed by Estefanía Fadul, will feature a talented cast of eight actors doubling up on roles and doubling down on laughter while highlighting the enduring relevance of its central themes including love, marriage, societal expectations, and the weight of the choices we make.
The cast for Heritage Theatre Festival’s production of Pride and Prejudice will include Shanelle Leonard as Jane/Miss deBourgh; Olivia Abiassi as Lizzy; Ryleigh Tatum as Lydia/Lady Catherine; Terrell Donnell Sledge as Mr. Darcy; Jeremy West as Mr. Collins/Wickham/Miss Bingley; Carol Mazhuvancheril as Mr. Bingley/Mary; Chris Seiler as Charlotte Lucas/Mr. Bennet; and Denise Stewart as Mrs. Bennet/Servants. Additional creative team members include: Yu Shibagaki (Scenic Designer); Mieka van der Ploeg (Costume Designer); R. Lee Kennedy (Lighting Designer); Michael Rasbury (Sound Designer); and Andrew Carluccio (Production Stage Manager).
Estefanía Fadul is a New Hampshire-raised, New York City-based director and producer with a passion for working on new plays, musicals, and reimagined classics. Fadul’s recent directing work includes the world premieres of Christina Quintana’s Azul (Southern Rep) and Scissoring (INTAR, off-Broadway); Stefan Ivanov’s The Same Day (Sfumato, Theatre, Bulgaria); James Anthony Tyler’s Around 2 (Keen Teens); and the Spanish-language musical Óye Oyá by Rebecca Martinez and Rodolfo Ortega (Milagro). She has developed new work off-Broadway and regionally at The Playwright’s Realm, The Drama League, Artists Repertory Theatre, LPAC, Hi Arts, and Fresh Ground Pepper, and has directed at universities and training programs including Juilliard, NYU, SUNY Purchase, and the Atlantic Conservatory. Fadul is a recipient of multiple fellowships including the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center/NNPN’s National Director Project’s Fall Fellowship; and the Foeller Fellowship at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. She is a member of the New Georges Jam and the Latinx Theatre Company steering committee, and a former member of the Civilians’ R&D Group and the Lincoln Center Theatre Directors Lab.
“One of the things I love about this adaptation is the idea that an audience member may walk in expecting their grandmother’s Pride and Prejudice,” Fadul said, “but what they get is this incredible, fun, funny, kind of absurdist sort of game of matchmaking, and really, of life. It’s almost as if the audience becomes spectators at a sporting match. And, hopefully, they will in some ways be able to see themselves reflected in who they are rooting for, and to find some relevance to their own lives.”
This new way of looking at the story, Fadul said, also highlights the ongoing relevance of Austen’s words and themes of love, life, and the choices we make, even more than a century after they were first written. “I feel like what Kate Hamill has done here is allow us to look at this piece through a contemporary lens. A huge part of the story has to do with social norms – this idea of what are the things that we are expected to do, or to be given, in the society in which we live. It makes us think about the roles we take on based on gender, or race, or physical appearance.”
While the play is and has always been about love, Fadul said that the adaptation allows you to see a larger picture as well. “Austen is clearly looking specifically at love here in terms of asking what it means to find the perfect match. She exposes general themes of appearances and first impressions as clouding our ability to see who a person is on the inside. We get so blinded by, essentially, our pride and our prejudice. As this kind of game unfolds in this adaptation, I think it expands that idea out a bit and looks at what it means to make the right choices in our lives. We can never know for certain whether something is the right choice or the right match, given that there are so many circumstantial pieces that play into it all. “
The 2019 Heritage Theatre Festival season will kick off with the rock and roll musical Million Dollar Quartet (June 28, Culbreth Theatre). The season will also feature the beloved drama Steel Magnolias (July 26-August 4, Culbreth Theatre); and The Niceties (August 2-11, Ruth Caplin Theatre), a powerful drama of race, power, privilege, and who gets to tell our story.
Season subscriptions for Heritage Theatre Festival are currently available online at www.heritagetheatrefestival.org; Single tickets will go on sale beginning June 5, and will be available, along with season subscriptions, online, by phone at 434-924-3376, or in person at the UVA Arts Box Office in the lobby of the UVA Drama Building on Culbreth Road.
For more information on the upcoming 2019 Heritage Theatre Festival season and how you can support Heritage’s efforts, visit www.heritagetheatrefestival.org.
John Kelly PR