MONMOUTH — The road to love can be fast and simple, or it can be long and rocky.
For Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley, love clicks in place as easily as puzzle pieces. But for Jane’s sister, Elizabeth, and Mr. Bingley’s friend, Mr. Darcy, things of the heart are more complicated.
Jane, Elizabeth and their three other sisters experience the journey of love, courtship and manners in Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” presented by Western Oregon University’s Department of Theatre and Dance, starting Thursday. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m.
For Jeff Presler, a WOU junior and Monmouth native, relating to Mr. Darcy’s bluntly honest character is not too difficult.
“He’s a lot like me, in a way,” Presler said, “except he has all the filters I normally don’t.”
As for Darcy’s romantic interest, Elizabeth, it isn’t his fault she often misunderstands him, Presler said.
“She takes things the wrong way,” he said, but that’s not something he’s unfamiliar with in his life either. “It’s easy for people to misunderstand you. It happens a lot in my life.”
Janelle Davis fell in love with “Pride and Prejudice” when she was 13 years old. Davis said she is not a romantic person, but neither is her character, Elizabeth.
“She’s smart and usually says what she means to say,” Davis said. “She’s confident, which is cool. I like it.”
At the head of this family of single young women who must find single, wealthy matches is an oft-times overbearing mother, played by Belladina Starr.
When Starr enters the stage, other characters roll their eyes because they know Mrs. Bennet is a busybody.
“She is very loud and obnoxious and gossipy and really out of control,” said Starr. “That was very different for me. I’m a lot more soft-spoken and I think before I speak.”
Mrs. Bennet is “crazy all the time and ‘accidentally’ speaks too loudly,” Starr added. “She’s always talking. Sometimes she talks for no reason, it’s just to keep someone there longer. She’s manipulative.”
Mr. Bingley’s sister tries to warn him about marrying the beautiful Jane, played by Shannen Brouner — a marriage to a Bennet girl means Mrs. Bennet as a mother-in-law.
Mr. Bingley, played by Declan Hertel, isn’t fazed.
“Mr. Bingley ends up with the prettiest girl in the room, the most handsome girl in the room,” Hertel said.
The character was not difficult for Hertel to relate to.
“He’s charming, and up,” he said, referring to Bingley’s and his own gregarious natures.
The cast of 29 includes two Polk County natives. Presler, from Monmouth, is joined by Andrew Thornton of Dallas, who plays Mr. Denny.
“Pride and Prejudice” was adapted for the stage by Joseph Hanreddy and J.R. Sullivan. The play is directed by Western theater professor David Janoviak.
What: Western Oregon University Department of Theatre and Dance’s production of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”
When: Thursday through Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m. matinee performance; and March 4-7, 7:30 p.m.
Where: WOU’s Rice Auditorium, 345 Monmouth Ave. N., Monmouth.
Admission: $12 general admission; $10 for seniors; $7 for students. Tickets may be purchased from the box office between 12:30 and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, or starting at 6 p.m. on performance nights.
Of note: Performances on March 5 and March 6 will be interpreted in American Sign Language.
For more information: 503-838-8462 (box office); 503-838-8461 (theater and dance department).
Polk County Itemizer-Observer
by Emily Mentzer