When Idaho Shakespeare Festival Producing Artistic Director Charlie Fee decided to mount a stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in place of a second play from The Bard this summer, he knew it would be a bold move. But it has apparently already paid off. Word from the ISF box office is that ticket sales were already through the roof for Pride and Prejudice long before its opening night, Saturday, Aug. 4.
"Well, the opportunity to do a new stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice was too good to pass up. Everything aligned," Fee told Boise Weekly. "Think of this for a moment, we'll be performing Pride and Prejudice in rep with Mamma Mia. That's pretty interesting."
Laura Welsh Berg will step into the formidable role of Elizabeth Bennet in the Jane Austen classic.
"I've had a very long relationship with this book. I've loved it since I was a little girl, and I've re-read it many times throughout my life. It's a beautiful love story that, I believe, will never be unpopular," said Berg. "Think of that for a moment. I get up in the morning and think, 'I get to be Elizabeth Bennet today.'"
- DKM Photography
- Nick Steen and Laura Welsh Berg co-star in Pride and Prejudice
That's pretty heady stuff, considering that no less than Greer Garson, Jennifer Ehle and Keira Knightley have portrayed Elizabeth Bennet in some of the most popular film and television adaptations. And then of course, there's Pride and Prejudice's iconic Mr. Darcy, a role which catapulted Colin Firth to fame in a 1995 television miniseries.
"It's this eternal struggle between the head and the heart. That's something that transcends time periods," said Nick Steen, who plays Mr. Darcy in the ISF production. "I can't tell you how much of a gift this is to work on Jane Austen's text. Sometimes you have to work really hard to string a play's story together. But with Jane Austen, every look, every small comment means something. The source material is absolutely tremendous."
Making the experience even more memorable is the fact that Joseph Hanreddy, who co-authored the stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is also directing the ISF production.
"He's so kind, so flexible, so generous," said Steen. "You can't ask for a better space to be in than with Joe and his adaptation."
But Idaho audiences will need to act quickly. The production, which runs in repertory through Sunday, Sept. 2, is already the hottest ticket in town.