WHEN: May 18-20, 25-27. All shows start at 7 p.m. with a 2 p.m matinee May 27
WHERE: Wilsonville High School Auditorium
TICKETS: Tickets are available online at wildcatdrama.com or at the door the night of the show. Cost is $10 for adults, $8 for students
Wilsonville High's upcoming production of "Pride and Prejudice" is something of a curtain call for the theatre department's seniors, who will perform on the Wilsonville High stage for the last time. If everything goes according to plan, it will be the best and most memorable production of their high school careers.
With the play opening Thursday, May 18 and running through May 27, seniors say they haven't let themselves think about the end, instead focusing on what they say has been a surprisingly fun play to learn and rehearse.
"It's weird realizing that this is my last show, but I don't think it will set in until the run of the show," says senior Deirdre Fitzgerald, who plays Lady Catherine DeBourgh. "It's such a well-known book and these are such famous and well-known characters. To get to portray something that people already know has been interesting."
Wilsonville High's performance of Jane Austen's classic novel is the Jon Jory adaptation, which students say is refreshing and modern compared to what the casual theatre fan might expect from a classic play. The story follows an "obstinate, headstrong" girl named Elizabeth Bennet (played by freshman Averyl Hartje) and her budding relationship with the wealthy Mr. Darcy (played by sophomore Nathan Rasmussen).
When the pair first meet they are very different people, but Darcy undergoes a transformation as he gets to know "Lizzy." Austen's interpretation of love and marriage has stood the test of time, as it remains a popular story today.
"Jane Austen wrote it so long ago, but the way she wrote it it's still modern. I think that's really cool, and the playwright's version is great because it sums up the story so well but is also descriptive of what happens," says freshman Emma Weatherly, who plays Catherine Bennet. "I really appreciate how he took a lot of the lines from the book and turned them into dialogue for the play. He didn't change the story at all."
Set in 1813 London, "Pride and Prejudice" was the first time many students had ever utilized a different accent in their acting. The cast worked together to learn the tougher aspects of British dialect while practicing on their own as well. Students say accents were a challenge at first, but that they've enjoyed the added twist.
"I watched a lot of Harry Potter," jokes senior Larissa Fernandez, who plays Jane Bennet. "The accents have been fun but they've definitely been a challenge. The script is very unique and it's very theatrical in that we break the fourth wall and talk a lot to the audience. It's kind of hard to get to be good and work through transitions from when you're talking to the audience and then in a scene. That's been challenging, but it's been skill-building. It's a different kind of play than we've ever done."
"The language can be hard to understand. It's not Shakespeare but it's not modern English, so there's definitely some phrasing and different ways of speaking that have been difficult. I think that spending a lot of time on focusing on the language helped understand our characters and help understand the story better," Fitzgerald says.
As a freshman lead, Hartje carries a large responsibility in the production, but she says she's grown comfortable with her lines with help from Director Jason Katz and veteran cast members. Her character, Elizabeth "Lizzy" Bennet, also serves as the narrator, which has provided an additional challenge, Hartje says.
"I get to move the story along a lot, which is something that I've never done before and something I found really interesting," Hartje says. "It's a challenge between being my character as Elizabeth in the show and also being the narrator when I'm talking to the audience, because she's in the past when she's talking to the audience but in the present when she's Lizzy."
The play includes a large crew of 19, and utilizes a variety of set and costume changes. Students say working out the kinks of so many moving parts took some practice, but that all the hard work will make for a compelling product.
"It's a very tech-heavy show, so bringing all those technical elements — with the lights, and the sound and the set — bringing that all together and incorporating it into one cohesive production was challenging," says freshman Katie Walter, who plays Mary Bennet. "But now that we have it all down and are show ready I think it's turned out great."
While "Pride and Prejudice" will mark the final performance for seniors, the cast actually has more freshmen than upperclassmen. Younger students say seniors have served as both castmates and mentors, giving them confidence to continue building up the theatre department.
"It's going to be sad to see them go," says freshman Samantha Katz, who plays Lydia Bennet. "The seniors are so positive and just nice. It's been great to laugh and joke with them and feel like we're all the same."
Soon the curtain will fall for the last time, and seniors will take their final bow. But like they say in theatre, the show must go, and while it will be a bittersweet moment for all, seniors say they're leaving the program in good hands.
"For me, my favorite part about theatre is the backstage shenanigans. Especially when you get to watch your friends have fun and be part of something that feels so special — not everyone gets to experience that. It's something I'm going to take stock of and appreciate during these last shows," Fitzgerald says.
"There are probably going to be some tears on closing night," Fernandez says. "But we have so many talented underclassmen right now. The future of the department looks very bright."