Amelia Community Theatre
Submitted by Linda McClane
November 29, 2021
With wit and good cheer, Amelia Community Theatre presents the holiday comedy “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley,” opening December 3 on the Main Stage at 207 Cedar Street. Playwrights Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon have imagined a sequel to Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” novel about the clever and independent Bennet sisters.
Set in 1815 England, the play begins two years after the ending of Austen’s book. The entire extended Bennet family has been invited to celebrate the holidays at the Pemberley estate, where Elizabeth and husband Darcy are happily residing. Jane and her husband Bingley are expecting their first child, and Lydia is pretending that all is well in her marriage to Wickham. Mary, the scholarly sister who is resigned to being a socially awkward spinster, is the Miss Bennet of the show title. She unexpectedly encounters a kindred spirit and the possibility of romance when she meets Arthur, a guest who is equally bookish and awkward, and perhaps engaged.
The engagement is certainly a complication, even if Arthur doesn’t remember becoming engaged. With the arrival of Anne, the self-proclaimed fiancée, Mary’s sisters and their husbands conspire to bring Mary and Arthur together, whether they want or even need the help.
While familiarity with Pride and Prejudice isn’t necessary to understand the plot, that knowledge does add a intriguing element. As director Lisa Howard-Welch says, “It’s always fun to explore the what ifs and what happened next with characters of cherished books. In this play, we focus on a lesser known character who never believed she could find love, giving us a charming story of love at Christmas.”
The cast includes Juliet Welch as Mary and Nicholas Marquardt as Arthur, with Charlee Lawrence, Sharon Parker, and Jessica Tita as the other Bennet sisters. Ryan Sadler and Trey Stafford play husbands Bingley and Darcy, with Clarisse Phillips as Anne and Mokena Lipinski as a lady’s maid.
Show sponsors for this production are the Amelia Islander Magazine and Price Wealth Management.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on December 3-4, 9-11, 16-18 and at 2 p.m. on December 5 and 12. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for students through college, available at AmeliaCommunityTheatre.org and by calling (904) 261-6749. Flex ticket packages for the entire season are also available. The ACT box office is open from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays and ninety minutes before each performance.
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