Aired on KSDS-FM on 7/22/16
RUN DATES: 7/6/16 – 8/14/16
VENUE: The Old Globe
The society may be different, but the sentiments remain the same.
“Sense and Sensibility” was Jane Austen’s first novel, begun when she was 20, published in 1811, when she was 36.
It’s about love and marriage, wealth and social standing, patriarchy and property, in the rigidly structured, male-dominated culture of late 1700s England.
Her original title was “Elinor and Marianne,” clear evidence that her focus was on character. Reason and restraint were embodied in Elinor; impetuosity and emotionality in her sister, Marianne. In the end, it’s clear that neither neither sense nor sensibility is preferable; a balance between the two is required for a fulfilled and fulfilling life.
Watching these marriageable teens navigate the vagaries of romance and the desire for love and happiness in a mercenary world, has remained irresistible for two centuries. The greed, hypocrisy and social climbing they resist are still ubiquitous today.
Now, Tony-nominated composer/lyricist/librettist Paul Gordon, who brought his musical version of Austen’s “Emma” to The Old Globe five years ago, returns with the West coast premiere of a new musical, “Sense and Sensibility,” presented at the Globe in association with the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, where it premiered last year. This production maintains most of the original cast, and the director, Barbara Gaines, founder and artistic director of Chicago Shakes.
The minimalist, abstracted set features a modern, metallic swoop suggesting a spiral staircase, or perhaps the coiling and unraveling of relationship. It seems odd, given the period costumes and naturalistic approach to the satiric material.
Gordon’s score is lush and lyrical. Many of the songs have a similar sound, but the odes to women and age – “Elinor,” “Lydia,” and “Wrong Side of Five and Thirty” – are standouts.
No new ground is broken here, but the musical is charming and endearing. The singing and performances are strong and the unseen onstage orchestra, excellent, as is the lighting.
It seems that Austen-mania will never abate – not as long as there are women and men and money and meddlers and marriage in our midst.
©2016 PAT LAUNER, San Diego Theater Reviews