Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
The current version is on display at the Southside Theater, Ft. Mason Center. The British premiere was in 2012 at the Ruislip Operatic Society outside of London where it received rave reviews. The musical centers on Mr. Bennet, his chatty wife, and their five daughters. There are visits from military officers and parties to enliven the proceedings in this production. Rita Abrams' songs are compelling, delightful, and in the case of the ballads, moving. The book by Josie Brown captures the period of Jane Austen's world in words. It's a witty, tuneful and very sophisticated show.
Director Lexie Papedo Gasparini's cast is large. Eighteen actors and actresses grace the stage in beautiful costumes by Kathy Deichen and Suzan Plath. The opening scene is a feast for the eyes as the local gathering sees the arrival in the neighborhood of the wealthy and single Mr. Bingley (Kodo Elder-Groebe) and his aloof, handsome friend Fitzwilliam Darcy (David Crane). Kodo Elder-Groebe and David Crain are excellent as Bingley and Darcy and, while they are a mite too young for such roles, I did not mind it a bit. Both have powerful voices, especially Kodo Elder-Groebe when singing "The One I Could Have Been With You" and "The One I Will be with You" with Brittany Law as Elizabeth Bennet. She gives a convincing performance and has pitch perfect resonance in this song as well as "How Dare He."
Kathy Deichen and Geoffrey Colton are utterly charming in the roles of Mrs. and Mr. Bennet. Kathy is marvelous as the flustered Mrs. Bennet while Geoffrey Colton is properly stuffy as Mr. Bennet. Deichen has sparkling vocal cords in "A Husband" and both are harmoniously energizing in "Five Daughters" and "Being Married." Lizzy Moss gives a vibrant performance as Jane Bennet and has an effervescent voice when rendering the reprise of "A Changing World" and "A Husband." Juliet Heller gives a lovely performance as Charlotte Lucas and has thematic resonance when singing "In My Imagination." Chris Maltby, who plays the Reverend Mr. Collins, gives a lively performance and has a chance to shine when agreeably singing "What Is a Man to Do?" Sandi Rubay as Lady Catherine is properly stoic and gives a pulsating vocal performance of "That Would Be Me." Fernando Siu, Brigid O'Brien, Kim Long, Hannah Leonard, Elena Schoen, David Richardson, Kele Gasparini, and Jesse Northen all give good performances in their roles.
Lexie Papedo Gasparini's direction is smooth, especially with the many scene changes. Her crowd scenes works well with the help of choreographer Nicole Helfer. Jordan Plath's set is a series of flats and props on the proscenium stage. It adds to the flavor of the play.
Pride and Prejudice, the Musical runs through October 8th, 2016, at the Southside Theater, Fort Mason Center, Building D, 2 Marina Blvd, San Francisco. For tickets, visit www.iamtheatre.org.