Jane Austen Society of North America, Southwest Region
JASNA-SW members got a sneak preview of the new
Pride and Prejudice musical before its opening the following week.
Brandon Andrus (Darcy) and Patricia Noonan (Elizabeth)
Amanda Jacobs spent six weeks at Chawton House, setting three of Austen’s prayers to music. She performed one of the resulting hymns at the meeting.
Kelly Lohman (Anne Elliot) and Travis Goodman (Capt. Wentworth) from The Elliots
Bringing Jane Austen Novels to the Screen and Stage
April 11, 2015
Los Angeles Athletic Club
Amanda Jacobs and Lindsay Warren Baker — Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: a Musical
Lynda Hall — Adapting Jane Austen: The Ones You May Have Missed
Allison J. Darby and the cast of her new play The Elliots, based loosely on Persuasion
Sneak previews with the cast and creators of two world-premiere stage productions and a riveting overview of film adaptations based on Austen’s work made for a memorial day.
Amanda Jacobs and Lindsay Warren Baker — who wrote the music, lyrics, and book for Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: a Musical — and producer Erin Craig described the 15-year journey from Jacobs’ original idea for the musical to its staging at La Mirada Theater for the Performing Arts in Southern California April 17–May 10. The trio had previously workshopped the production in New York and hope to bring the musical to Broadway in the near future.
In Jacobs and Baker’s version, Jane Austen appears in every scene, interacting with her sister, Cassandra, as well as her characters as she takes on the task of revising First Impressions into Pride and Prejudice. With just a week to go before the premiere, several members of the cast — including New York-based Patricia Noonan and Brandon Andrus, the show’s Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy — took time away from rehearsal to present a few scenes and songs for JASNA-SW members.
Jacobs also described the six weeks’ residency she spent last summer at Chawton House in Hampshire, England, after being chosen for the International Visitors Program by the Jane Austen Society of North America. Her project proposal was to set Austen’s prayers to music for congregational worship. While in England, she performed concerts featuring those new works at St. Paul’s Church in Covent Garden, London, and at Godmersham, the home of Austen’s brother Edward, among other venues. She led JASNA-SW members in one of the three resulting hymns at the meeting.
JASNA-SW board member Lynda Hall, a professor of English literature at Chapman University, then provided an engaging overview of Austen adaptations for film and television, including clips from several obscure and loose adaptations. Take a look at the handout from her Austen adaptations presentation.
The afternoon focused on the new play The Elliots, based loosely on Persuasion, which was a month away from its premiere run May 9–June 7 at the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena. Playwright Allison J. Darby described the challenges of adapting Persuasion, particularly that of making Anne Elliot more active and the need to eliminate some characters and plot points to develop the novel for the stage. Actors Kelly Lohman (Anne Elliot) and Travis Goodman (Capt. Wentworth), along with other members of the cast performed a couple of scenes from the production, including a flashback to Capt. Wentworth’s original proposal.
The event also featured adaptation-themed raffle baskets and a quiz.
Lindsay Warren Baker is a freelance stage director, playwright/composer, teaching artist and yoga instructor. Writing credits with collaborator Amanda Jacobs include Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, a Musical; Lily, a Musical Portrait; Truth in Beauty: A Shakespeare Sonnet Project; and Daniel, the Musical. Recent directing credits include productions for Geva Theatre Center’s Young Writers Showcase, Rochester Lyric Opera and SUNY Geneseo. Baker also currently serves as an acting instructor and dramatic coach at the Eastman School of Music.
Over the past 18 years, Erin Craig has assisted artists and projects in the theatrical community through her work as a general manager, production manager, grassroot marketing / branding consultant, executive producer and producer. Within the last few years, her company, La Vie Productions, has branched out beyond the stage to include the film and music industries, including producing two feature-length independent films since 2011 with a third in the works. Current theatrical projects include Mr. Rickey Calls A Meeting (a play by Ed Schmidt and directed by J. Nicole Brooks); “Academy” (a new musical by John Mercurio and Andrew Kato influenced by Goethe’s Faust and directed by Igor Goldin), Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, a Musical; Stalking the Bogeyman (a new play based on a true story as featured on This American Life); 26 Pebbles (a new play by Eric Ulloa based on the real stories of Newtown, Connecticutt); Himself & Nora (a new musical by Jonathan Brielle about the life of James Joyce) as well as several other projects currently in development. Craig is a member of the Broadway League of Theatres and Producers, the League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers, the League of Professional Theatre Women and New York Women in Film and Television.
Amanda Jacobs is most recognized for her award-winning work on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, a Musical, which swept the New York Musical Theater Awards in 2011, including the coveted “Stage Entertainment Award” and “Most Promising Musical” award. In 2014, she served as a representative for the Jane Austen Society of North America’s International Visitors Program to the UK, where she spent the summer in Jane Austen’s home composing music, organizing and then producing a concert in Jane Austen’s churches in London and Godmersham. This past August, she was invited to present new music from Patricia Noonan’s original story Learning How to Drown: An Irish Musical at The Pitch in the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, which now has been invited to be part of the 2015 Johnny Mercer Writer’s Colony at Goodspeed Musicals in January 2015. Another project in the works is The Up Side of Down, a new musical with Y York. Earlier collaborative works include Lily, a Musical Portrait; Truth in Beauty: A Shakespeare Sonnet Project; and Daniel, the Musical. Jacobs is recognized for her concert music, including 1st Prize from the Long Island Arts Council (2009), the Marin Lutheran Church Competition (2009), Celebrating Grace (2009) and NATS (2002), as well as international recognition for her “Mass for the Living” from the Sacred Arts Foundation (2010). In 2014, she was a winner in the Words & Music Art Song competition for her setting of Emily Dickinson’s poem, “I would not paint a picture.” She grew up in Macon, Georgia, and earned her bachelor of music degree in piano performance from Wesleyan College.
Lynda Hall teaches at Chapman University and earned her PhD in English literature from Claremont Graduate University. She has been a member of JASNA and JASNA Southwest for almost 30 years and has made several presentations at AGMs and at various JASNA regions in the western United States. She currently is working on a book that traces the economic and moral value of Jane Austen’s minor women, of which Emma’s Miss Bates is a part.
Allison Darby Gorjian hails from the lone star state where she earned her BFA in theater from Southern Methodist University. In addition to studying directing and play writing at SMU, she completed multiple semesters of independent study in Linklater based text-work and dramaturgy. She has worked in New York and Dallas with the Undermain Theater, Theater Fusion, Dallas Theater Center, Lark Play Development Center, New Georges, The Classical Acting Company, Echo Theater, TECO Theater and Seasoned Theatre Company as an actor, director, assistant director and/or dramaturg. Favorite projects include Hamlet, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, A Flea in Her Ear, An Evening of Robert Frost, the New York Premiere of Man’s Best Friend by Jeffrey M. Jones,and the all city first-prize-winning play School Day Slam with the young performers at Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center in Dallas. In 2007, she moved to Los Angeles and earned her master’s in professional writing at USC.