Friday, March 25, 2011. It was a very different time, two hundred years ago, when "Sense and Sensibility" was written "By a Lady". The lady, Jane Austen, as well as her characters lived in England in the midst of "The Regency Era" (1795-1837). During this period manners and mores were of upmost importance to the upper classes and women were trapped in an inferior role to men.
Jon Jory (playwright, director) who is known for his adaptations of classic literature such as Pride and Prejudice, Anne of Green Gables and The Gift of the Magi has done an excellent adaptation of Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" for its world premiere at Northlight Theatre which opened Sunday evening in Skokie. Jory's adaptation stays true to the novel bringing it alive on stage in a creative manner that makes the transitions in time and place occur seemlessly.
"Sense and Sensibility", revolves around two sisters, the sensible Elinor Dashwood (Sense), played by Heidi Kettenring and the passionate Marianne (Sensibility) with Helen Sadler in the role of younger Dashwood sister. Both girls are seeking husbands but a lack of family fortune due their elder brother John Dashwood's greed (Si Osborne) narrow their prospects for marriage.
To make sense of the play one must understand who is related to whom. Anyone who is familiar with the book or movie, should have no problem but for the first timer a primer on the relationships may be helpful. I would suggest taking a look at the family tree that is posted on the wall in the lobby of Northlight Theatre before the show.
The casting for the production is impeccable. Some lesser characters from the book have been omitted narrowing the cast to thirteen. Older sister Elinor who keeps her emotions under wraps cares deeply for the shy Edward Ferrars (Geoff Rice), who seems to reciprocate the feelings but doesn't make any commitment. The impulsive younger sister Marianne, passionately portrayed by Helen Sadler falls head over heels with her heart on her sleeve for the handsome Willoughby (Greg Matthew Anderson) who, of course, will break her heart.
Other respected cast members include: V Craig Heidenreich as Sir John Middleton, a cousin of Mrs. Henry Dashwood; Franette Liebow, the selfish and snobbish Mrs. John Dashwood; Diane Mair as the manipulative Lucy Steel, Ginger Lee McDermott (Lady Middleton/Mrs. Ferrars); Si Osborne (John Dashwood): Wendy Robie (Mrs. Jennings); Penny Slusher as Mrs. Henry Dashwood, the cheerful mother of Elinor and Marianne; Jordan Brown (Robert Ferrars/Gardener) and Jay Whittaker as Colonel Brandon, the older gentleman who falls in love with Marianne at first sight.
Sense and Sensibility will run through April 17, 2011.
Tickets are $40-$50. They may be purchased by phone at 847 673 6300, at the box office, or online at northlight.org
One hour and 50 minutes.
Northlight Theatre is located at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie.
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