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Pride & Prejudice comes to Ogdensburg

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OGDENSBURG - He wounds her pride; she judges him. So begins one of the greatest loves stories (and misunderstandings) of all time.

Pride & Prejudice, a play adapted from the iconic book by Jane Austen and produced and performed by L.A. Theatre Works, will be presented in Ogdensburg Tuesday.

“The book adapts very well to the play,” said Susan A. Loewenberg, Founder of L.A. Theatre Works and producing director. “We had to make choices, telling the story in a short form and telescope things, but there’s no difference in the basic characters. As we know Jane Austen wrote some wonderful characters.”

The play follows the witty and independent Elizabeth Bennet, the second of five daughters, and arrogant Mr. Darcy, as the two embark on one of the most celebrated will-they-won’t-they love stories in all of literature.

“You really begin to root for these characters,” said Ms. Loewenberg. “Darcy and Lizzy must overcome their personalities and headstrongness. They are both enormously principled people and they’re not about to give in.”

Performed the style of radio theatre, the play was challenging but exciting to stage, Director Brian Kite said Friday.

“This is an interesting hybrid of radio theatre,” said Mr. Kite. “It’s full costumes and there’s blocking and staging. There’s sound effects, and live action for the live audience and there is also the use of imagination to fill any blanks for radio listeners. We wanted to present the play in a more visceral way. I think it’s going to be a unique night for the audience.”

Mr. Kite has directed over 20 productions including the Philadelphia production of Glenn Wein’s Grandma Sylvia’s Funeral and worked with Tony Award-winning director Daniel Sullivan on The Geffen Playhouse’s production of Hedda Gabler starring Annette Bening. He is currently a member of the directing faculty at University of California at Los Angeles School of Theater, Film and Television. This is his first time directing radio theater.

Customary of radio theatre, the actors must move around the stage to make action, but must speak their dialogue into one of 10 microphones on the stage.

“You are bound by the microphones,” said Ms. Loewenberg. “The challenge is to set up and move the actors in an interesting way and kind of choreagraph.”

In addition, with the exception of Julia McIlvaine, who plays Elizabeth Bennet, and Nick Toren, who plays Mr. Darcy, each actor plays multiple characters.

“Well I think the ensemble works together and it is really interesting to watch,” said Ms. Loewenburg. “It’s radio theatre, so people play several parts. Some of them play four or five different characters. In one scene they will throw on a hat and in the next scene put on glasses and change their voice.”

The play was adapted by Christina Calvit. Jane Austen’s novel was first published in 1813. Next year will mark the 200th anniversary of its publication.

“I love Elizabeth because she really is a modern woman,” said Ms. Loewenberg. “She’s feisty she says what she thinks. She is not about to play the part of the good little girl. She indulges her mother, but she’s crazy about her dad. She’s Jane Austen really, or what Jane Austen would like to be. It’s fun to watch her.”

Ogdensburg Command Performances will present the show at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the George Hall Auditorium at Ogdensburg Free Academy, 1100 State St. Preshow chats will be conducted by a representative of the touring company, beginning at 6:45 p.m.

Tickets range from $17 to $37. There are discount tickets available for senior citizens, students, groups of 15 or more, and OCP Friends. For more information, call 393-2625, email ocp@ogdensburgk12.org, or visit ILoveTheatre.org.

North Country Public Radio will be recording this entire performance for broadcast at a later date.

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