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Aquila Theatre – Pride and Prejudice (The 2022-2023 U.S. Tour) is hilarious and a must-see production for any Jane Austen fan!
Imagine a production of Pride and Prejudice featuring 6 actors – many who are performing not two but sometimes three roles exceptionally well. And with a modern twist, despite the faithfulness to Jane Austen’s original story, that would make this a very satisfying production to take any fan of farce and satire.
The Cast of Aquila Theatre’s Pride and Prejudice
Leading the 6 person cast is British actress Leda Douglas (she/her) as Elizabeth Bennet. She is a graduate of The Oxford School of Drama (other famous alumni include Claire Foy, Catherine McCormack, and Charity Wakefield) and has performed at the National Theatre and SOHO Theatre in London’s West End. This talented actress appears to take her cue from Keira Knightley’s 2005 tomboyish portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet. She almost immediately from the beginning tosses her legs up on the table in the Bennet reception room and not much later into the first act she is seen running around and hitting a birdie while playing badminton with Elizabeth Belfast (Charlotte Lucas).
But it is not the choice she makes to portray Lizzie as a tomboy but rather her sparkle and wit that captivates the audience. Often breaking the fourth wall, Leda’s Lizzie Bennet enjoys making aside remarks to the audience while also taking delight and pleasure out of her scenes with co-stars such as James Counihan (Mr. Collins) and James Lavender (Mrs. Bennet).
In the leading male role of Mr. Darcy is actor Conner Keef, who also plays the role of Mr. Bennet. Keef is a New York based actor who has previously performed with Aquila Theatre in Macbeth. Their ability to portray both characters so differently is to be congratulated. They use a combination of physical acting and a well placed wig to differentiate the two characters. In fact, they did such a great job with the portrayal of two drastically different characters came as a shock to many audience members at the end of the show when I heard whispers around me of shock when they realized it was the same actor.
Giving a riotous performance in the dual roles of Mrs. Bennet and Lady Catherine de Bourgh is the exceptional James Lavender who might have stolen the show every time he took to the stage. I can only imagine how hilarious his performance as Mrs. Jennings might have been in Aquila Theatre’s Sense and Sensibility. James is without a doubt a comedian of the first order! There were so many times that James had the audience laughing out loud and longing for more and more stage time. I’m not sure if he is a singer but if so, James needs to be the next The D’Ysquith Family in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder!
James Counihan (official website) is the 3rd and final actor in the tour playing to perfection the roles of Mary Bennet, Charles Bingley, Mr. Collins, and Mr. Wickham. From the moment James sashayed onto the stage dressed as Mary Bennet, i knew this was going to be a good show. His comedic timing was first rate and he did an excellent job of separating each role so that when he was on stage in one of the diverse roles, you knew he was 100% committed to the role. Without ruining the show for you guys, it was his quick change between the roles of Mary, Bingley, and Wickham at the end that had the audience cackling with laughter.
Rounding out the cast are Katie Housley (Jane Bennet/Miss Bingley/Anne de Bourgh) and Elizabeth Belfast (Lydia Bennet/Charlotte Lucas/Georgiana Darcy). Major props to Elizabeth who seemed to have difficulties with her microphone and yet never once did she break character or seem distracted. Instead she expertly plowed through with the performance as if nothing was amiss.
Katie Housley is a Canadian stage and screen actress whose play, Midnight on a Monday, won the Playwrights Guild of Canada/Toronto Fringe Festival’s 24 hour playwriting contest before receiving its world premiere at New York’s WorkShop Theatre as part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival where it went on to receive a nomination for Best Short Subject. Very impressive! And her performances opposite Conner Keef as a flirtatious Caroline Bingley and Anne de Bourgh were hilarious!
Elizabeth Belfast is not only gorgeous but also sparkles as youngest sister, Lydia Bennet, in her chemistry with sisters Katie Housley, Leda Douglas, and James Counihan. The decision to have her play the “plain” Charlotte Lucas however was a surprise since she could easily be considered the most beautiful actress in the company. She however did a great job making Charlotte her own and giving her a sympathetic bent during Lizzie’s visit to Rosings.
What is the Aquila Theatre?
Once again Irvine Barclay Theatre led me to a fabulous theatre company. Last year I was thrilled to discover Fellowship for the Performing Arts and this year I am now an official fan of Aquila Theatre thanks to their witty production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Aquila Theatre is one of the foremost producers of classical theatre in the United States and has been bringing audiences world-class actors, captivating designs, innovative adaptations, and impactful direction since 1991. Aquila Theatre also provides extensive educational offerings and is an award-winning leader in the field of public arts and humanities programming. Aquila Theatre’s mission is to create innovative interpretations of the classics for today’s audiences. By diversifying the classics and expanding the canon, Aquila seeks to enhance the plurality of our perspectives.
In addition to producing Pride and Prejudice during the 2022-2023 season, they are also performing Julius Caesar with the same cast across the United States.
Aquila Theatre 2022-2023 Tour Schedule
Pride and Prejudice Tour Dates
October 9 – McCallum Theatre, Palm Desert, California
October 14 – Sunset Cultural Center, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
October 18 – Gallo Center for the Arts, Modesto, California
October 19 – The Center for the Arts, Grass Valley, California
October 23 – Popejoy Hall, Albuquerque, New Mexico
October 27 – Walton Arts Center, Fayetteville, Arkansas
October 29 – The Grand 1894 Opera House, Galveston, Texas
November 5 – Stephen B. Humphrey Theater, St. Joseph, Minnesota
November 10 – Loeb Playhouse (Stewart Center), West Lafayette, Indiana
November 13 – EKU Center for the Arts, Richmond, Kentucky
January 13 – Bill Heard Theatre – River Center for the Performing Arts, Columbus, Georgia
January 22 – Rinker Playhouse – Kravis Center, West Palm Beach, Florida
January 27 – University of GA – Performing Arts Center, Athens, Georgia
February 3 – Diana Wortham Theatre, Asheville, North Carolina
February 12 – Manship Theatre, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
February 24 – Tulsa Performing Arts Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma
February 25 – Leach Theater – Castleman Hall, Rolla, Missouri
March 3 – DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, Notre Dame, Indiana
March 7 – Clark State Performing Arts Center, Springfield, Ohio
The touring cast is also performing in Julius Caesar too. For all dates and tickets visit the Aquila Theatre official site.
The Julius Caesar Cast:
- Elizabeth Belfast (Calpurnia, Cinna, Octavius, Ensemble)
- James Counihan (Marc Anthony, Cimber, Clitus, Ensemble)
- Leda Douglas (Casca, Portia, Lucilius, Ensemble)
- Katie Housley (Brutus, Ensemble)
- Conner Keef (Caesar, Cicero, Cinna the Poet, Lepidus, Messala, Ensemble)
- James Lavender (Cassius, Artemidorus, Ensemble)
Future Shows Coming to Irvine Barclay Theatre
Thanks again to Irvine Barclay for the tickets to see Pride and Prejudice. All opinions are my own.
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