Pride and Prejudice

Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey a.d. Bonnie J. Monte has adapted and staged a sumptuous new version of Jane Austen's sprawling turn-of-the-19th-century tome "Pride and Prejudice." At three hours-plus, the production captures the spirit, romantic fervor and crisp period humor of the novel.

With:
Mr. Bennet - Edmond Genest Mrs. Bennet - Monique Fowler Elizabeth - Victoria Mack Kitty, Lucy - Katelin Wilcox Jane - Nisi Sturgis Mary - Saluda Camp Lydia - Gardner Reed Mr. Bingley - Sean Mahan Mrs. Bingley - Alison Ostergaard Mr. Darcy - Marcus Dean Fuller Charlotte Lucas - Jessica Ires Morris Maria Lucas, Georgiana Darcy - Elizabeth G. Wilson Mr. Collins - Michael Stewart Allen Mr. Wickham - Donald Andrew Macdonald Lady Catherine de Bourgh - Elizabeth Shepherd

Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey a.d. Bonnie J. Monte has adapted and staged a sumptuous new version of Jane Austen’s sprawling turn-of-the-19th-century tome “Pride and Prejudice.” At three hours-plus, the production captures the spirit, romantic fervor and crisp period humor of the novel as the narrative follows the endeavors of the five Bennet sisters, who search for proper husbands with quiet desperation and fluttery ardor.

Poised, witty and stubborn, pivotal character Elizabeth Bennet is brought to life by Victoria Mack. Her gracious performance boasts porcelain charm and feisty determination. The elusive and impertinent Darcy is played by Marcus Dean Fuller with so much haughty grandeur that it’s almost impossible to accept his transformation into a civil suitor. But he accomplishes just that, with considerable romantic finesse.

Especially notable is Elizabeth Shepherd as Lady Catherine de Bourgh, the haughty matron aunt. Shepherd takes centerstage in a scene-stealing moment and nearly dwarfs all those around her. It may be old-fashioned grandstanding, but the style is steeped in tradition and works quite nicely.

Michael Stewart Allen plays the pompous, narrow-minded clergyman, Mr. Collins, with a properly insufferable yet amusingly silly air. All dither and prone to fainting spells is Monique Fowler’s fluttery Mrs. Bennet, while Edmond Genest provides the right blend of calm and order as the mild-mannered family patriarch.

Pertly appealing Nisi Sturgis plays a guarded Jane, while Saluda Camp brings quiet dignity to bookish Mary.

There’s a ballroom sequence accented by silvery chandeliers and candelabras that’s exquisitely cinematic. Michael Schweikardt has designed a serviceable beige-tinted set that’s enhanced by costumer Kim Gill’s handsome parade of chemise gowns, period habits, pantaloons and Spencer jackets.

Pride and Prejudice

F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theater, Madison, N.J.; 308 seats; $50 top

Production: A Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey presentation of a play in two acts adapted by Bonnie J. Monte from the novel by Jane Austen. Directed by Monte.

Creative: Set, Michael Schweikardt; costumes, Kim Gill; lighting; Brenda Gray; sound, Steven L. Beckel; choreography, Cheryl E. Clark; production stage manager, Christine Whalen. Opened Oct. 21, 2006. Reviewed Oct. 22. Runs through Nov. 19. Running time: 3 HOURS, 15 MIN.

Cast: Mr. Bennet - Edmond Genest Mrs. Bennet - Monique Fowler Elizabeth - Victoria Mack Kitty, Lucy - Katelin Wilcox Jane - Nisi Sturgis Mary - Saluda Camp Lydia - Gardner Reed Mr. Bingley - Sean Mahan Mrs. Bingley - Alison Ostergaard Mr. Darcy - Marcus Dean Fuller Charlotte Lucas - Jessica Ires Morris Maria Lucas, Georgiana Darcy - Elizabeth G. Wilson Mr. Collins - Michael Stewart Allen Mr. Wickham - Donald Andrew Macdonald Lady Catherine de Bourgh - Elizabeth ShepherdWith: Hanna Hayes, Ashton Crosby, Megan Irene Davis, Paul Reisman, Kersti Bryan, Phil Brown, Josh Carpenter, Jake O'Connor, Michael Striano, Kathleen Rosamond Kelly, Joseph Costa.

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