SB Ensemble Theatre presents “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” Nov. 30

Staff Report

Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC) announces their new holiday show, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, a creation by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon.  Directed by Andrew Barnicle, this regional-theater hit is a sequel to Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”, and reunites its characters to place the bookish middle sister, Mary Bennet, in the limelight. The production will debut on Thursday, November 30, and will run until December 17, 2017.

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley follows the “Pride and Prejudice” characters as they gather at Pemberley, the distinguished home of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy in the early 19th century. Character Mary Bennet grows tired of her role as the innocent sister in the face of her siblings’ whirlwind romances. When the family gathers for Christmas at Pemberley, an unexpected guest sparks Mary’s hopes for romance.

This comedy has charmed critics and audiences nationwide, and was a hit in its National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere in 2016. The production is a “droll and quite delicious seasonal sequel to ‘Pride and Prejudice’…an unstuffy, highly entertaining and warm-spirited work, the kind of thing multiple generations can enjoy together,” wrote Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune.

“When my co-author Margot Melcon and I started Miss Bennet,” said playwright Lauren Gunderson, “we wanted to create a holiday story for everyone that explores the complexities of family and love. It had to be funny, moving, romantic and smart. It had to be something Jane Austen would approve of.”

Gunderson has had more than 20 of her works produced and has been recognized by American Theatre Magazine as the most-produced living playwright in the United States. Melcon is the Zellerbach Family Foundation’s Executive for promoting culture and spent seven years as an artist and administrator at Marin Theater Company.  As their Director of New Play Development, Melcon has worked as a dramaturg on six world premieres and has administered the company’s two annual new play prizes.

“This play was a joy to discover,” said ETC’s artistic director Jonathan Fox. “For the first time in several years, we are presenting a holiday play that actually takes place at the holidays! The play sparkles with Jane Austen’s style of wit and I’m pleased that it brings director Andrew Barnicle back to ETC.”

The actors in Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley have an extensive background in television, film, theater & Broadway. The production’s cast includes Erin Barnes (Jane), Paul Culos (Arthur), Donnla Hughes (Mary), Samantha Eggers (Anne), Caroline Innerbichler (Lydia), Matthew Koenig (Bingley), Christian Pedersen (Darcy) and Paige Lindsay White (Lizzie).

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley’s director, Andrew Barnicle, directed the ETC productions of Venus in Fur, Fallen Angels and Chapter Two, and served as artistic director of the Laguna Playhouse from 1991 through 2010.  In that time, he produced over 100 Playhouse shows and directed over 40 of them.  His recent directing projects at Laguna include Lissa Levin’s “Sex and Education” starring Julia Duffy, Willy Russell’s “Shirley Valentine,” Noel Coward’s “Private Lives,” and Ron Hutchinson’s “Moonlight and Magnolias”.

Ticket prices range from $20-$50. 2017-2018 season subscriptions start at $150 for a five-play preview series. Special student subscriptions are available for $90 and subscriptions for theatergoers ages 29 and under are just $150.

This production is generously sponsored by The Stephen and Carla Hahn Foundation, in partnership with Montecito Bank and Trust. 

For more information, please visit: http://ensembletheatre.com/boxoffice/nowplaying/miss_bennet_christmas_at_pemberley

About Ensemble Theatre Company

Founded in 1979, Ensemble Theatre Company is Santa Barbara’s leading professional, resident theater company. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Jonathan Fox and Managing Director Jill Seltzer, ETC has attracted accomplished performing artists from around the country. In 2013, ETC opened its new 300-seat home, the New Vic. The New Vic has become a venue for dance, music, film, and lectures. ETC, which presents five or six plays per season, has produced several American and West Coast premieres, and has garnered numerous awards over the years. ETC’s 2017/2018 Season is generously sponsored by Leatrice Luria.

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