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Universal Truth

Two productions from Ohio Light Opera,
reviewed by KELLY FERJUTZ


'It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.' For more than 200 years these words have heralded the beginning of a wonderful treat -- that most delightful book by the beloved Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

It is therefore entirely appropriate that the musical version of Pride and Prejudice which was given its world première at Ohio Light Opera (Wooster, Ohio, USA) on 14 July 2006, begins with those same words. Nearly everyone from the pages of the book was represented on stage, making for a rather full house, at times. Kirk Domer designed a rather simple set, multi-leveled, with a bridge across the upper rear portion. It was here that the desk of Jane was placed, so that she could easily watch her characters come to life, with vivid musical accompaniment.

Because, you see, Jane Austen herself is our guide to this, her most famous work, in the person of soprano Jill Anna Ponasik. A great proportion of the words spoken or sung in this production are from the original book, carefully excised from the printed text and worked into this new version. At times, however, it did seem that perhaps not all of the words chosen were absolutely necessary, especially in the much-longer first act. But then, this was only the first public performance, after all, and with time and repetition, it may well settle in to be 'just right'. Regardless, it is a very handsome production with absolutely awe-inspiring costumes and wigs, as well, although rather more of the former than the latter.

Lindsay Baker uses Amanda Jacobs' back to sign an autograph. Photo © 2006 Kelly Ferjutz
Lindsay Baker uses Amanda Jacobs' back to sign an autograph. Photo © 2006 Kelly Ferjutz

Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs are two very talented, literate and musically-inclined young women from New York, who share the credits as composers and lyricists. They started their odyssey in 2000, at the Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA). Their dream took them to England and those places where Jane lived and wrote, as well as other historical sites that may have been influential in her life. They determined that Jane's words were of such importance, their position could only be as 'translators' whose purpose was to translate the story into song.

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Copyright © 1 August 2006 Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA


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