The Austen Tattler: News and Gossip on the Blogosphere

“All that she wants is gossip, and she only likes me now because I supply it.”
Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 31

Austen around the blogosphere for the week of September 28th

A new stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice opened at The Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada this week. Austenprose was lucky to snag a review by local Janeite Deborah Jane and you can read all about this stunning adaptation here.

Lost in Austen concluded triumphantly this week with episode four as heroine Amanda Price dashed about from century to century attempting to fix the mixed up plot. Some critics loved it, others did not. You can read about all the deconstruction discussion on AustenBlog, and reviews on Jane Austen’s World, BlogCritics, And Leaves the World, The Journal of the Browncoat Cat, and Austenprose. Now that it is over, I hope that producers out there in TV and movie land will consider another Austen novel re-imagining. It certainly got the media and people discussing and watching our favorite authoresses work, or sort of her work since the plot was not quite what Austen penned.

Inspired by Lost in Austen? One of favorite Austen blogs from down under has some ideas on what producers could do with the plot and characters in Mansfield Park. Too funny!

Austen-esque book reviews for the week, Cassandra & Jane, times two, and three, All Things Austen, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, and The Darcys and the Bingleys. In addition, check out the reports and interviews from Austenesque authors, Rebecca Ann Collins, Jill PitkeathleyJane Odiwe, and the summer 2008 book reviews have been added to JASNA on line.

Author Colleen McCullough (The Thorn Birds) was interviewed about her new Austen inspired book, The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet, that hit book stores in Australia on October 1st and in the US on December 9th. This highly anticipated sequel is McCullough’s chance to stick it to the literati who dismiss her novels as pulp and write something tongue-in-cheek to tweak a few noses. Oh my! If the book is as outspoken as Ms. McCullough, Miss Mary Bennet might be as grating as her singing.

Who is Sophia Sentiment, and what is her connection to Jane Austen? The Becoming Jane fansite offers some possibilities this week along with some nice physical descriptions of the author by her family.

It looks like major casting is now complete for the Broadway bound musical Pride and Prejudice by the selection of Laura Osnes as literary legend Elizabeth Bennet. Readers might recognize Ms. Osnes as one of the winners in the TV reality show, ‘Your The One That I Want’ which aired last summer and selected the two starring roles of Sandy and Danny in the Broadway revival of Grease in a round robin type audition-off. Miss Bennet could not have a more beautiful or talented actress to portray her. Best of luck Laura!

Pride and Prejudice character Lydia Bennet is one fun and naughty young lady, and author Jane Odiwe is her celebrated channel as she continues penning her journal at Jane Austen Sequels blog.

The Annual General Meeting for JASNA opened today in Chicago celebrating Austen’s Legacy. I’m pea green over all my Austen friends having so much Jane fun without me. Be sure to have an Austentini for all of those absent Janeites!

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey kicked off this week here at Austenprose. The Austen novel event will feature a group read of the novel, guest bloggers and free giveaways. Check out the introduction to the event to catch up with the celebration. Here are a few participants; Becky’s Book Reviews, Jane Austen Reviews, Cherishing Darcy, Bookbath, Kimberley’s Cup, A Striped Armchair, Wings of EaglesA Moment Captured, and Life and Times of a “New” New Yorker. The Northanger fun continues until October 31st, so please join us.

Until next week, happy reading!

Laurel Ann

Review: A Sparkling Pride and Prejudice Adapation in Edmonton Charms a Fellow Janeite

Gentle readers, it may appear from time to time, that our Austen connections run far and wide, but modesty precedes us as we happily submit this review for your perusal from our dear friend and fellow Janeite Deborah Jane who attended the new stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice presented by The Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Our only regret is that we did not have the extreme pleasure of experiencing it together. Enjoy!

When the Banff Centre in Banff, Alberta and the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta  formed a partnership to create a Professional Theatre Program, their goal was to create Canada’s premiere professional theatre program for emerging professional theatre artists. The program includes a curriculum with master classes in acting, singing, voice, movement, dance, text, and script analysis by a faculty comprised of some Canada’s leading theatre artists.

A lovely production of a new adaptation of Pride and Prejudice from Tom Wood, one of Canada’s most celebrated actors, directors and playwrights, was the result of the collaboration.  The world premiere of the play took place at the Citadel Theatre on August 21, 2008, opening to glowing reviews.

“Lizzy . . gets a ravishing performance from Amanda Lisman, who radiates intelligence and heart.

“The show literally revolves . . . in Bob Baker’s production, designed and dressed in glorious and lavish period detail by Leslie Frankish and lit, like gorgeous varnished oil paintings, by Bretta Gerecke.

“And in the course of Woods’s adaptation . . . Pride and Prejudice becomes delightful and absorbing, and the fortunes of Lizzy, Jane and the rest crucial to us.” – Liz Nicholls, The Edmonton Journal

The Banff Centre/Citadel partners chose to produce this adaptation because it offered so many roles for young actors, and offered a tremendous opportunity for the cast to understand the historical context and manners and master Austen’s complex language. This new adaptation also allowed the young actors to learn and employ skills such as sword play (a brief scene introducing the regiment to the neighbourhood), dancing (at the Netherfield ball), and playing and singing (performed very softly as background to dialogue).

I am happy to report that the costumes, hairstyles and music were true to the Regency period and very similar to the styles employed in the 1995 BBC production. It was a nice touch that Elizabeth and Darcy’s dance at Netherfield was performed to Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot.

The set was elaborate and intricate. A revolving floor dressed with stylized tree-like structures that were moved in and out and around the stage to allow characters to walk through woods and halls and rooms, also facilitated the movement of furniture on and off stage to create lavish sets for Longbourn, Netherfield Park, Rosings, and Pemberley.

Wood’s three hour adaptation is light, bright and sparkling and very faithful to Austen’s plot. The language was almost perfect but I cringed once. I cannot imagine Lizzy telling Charlotte Lucas that she was “besotted” by Wickham!

The cast was wonderful. In particular, Amanda Lisman as Lizzy shined. Her performance reinforced my distaste for Keira Knightley’s 2005 movie portrayal, as Lisman was everything a young Lizzy ought to be: intelligent; witty; and playful but appropriately introspective and ashamed. Her delivery of the line, “Till this moment I never knew myself ” was powerful and heart-breaking. Renowned Canadian actress Lally Cadeau who played both Mrs. Bennet and Lady Catherine de Bourgh brought all the right notes to both roles. As Mr. Darcy, Rejean Cournoyer was a great deal more than tolerable.

Overall, this a charming adaptation produced and performed with wit, skill and ingenuity and I highly recommend it if it comes to a theatre near you.

Pride and Prejudice; September 20 – October 12, 2008
Presented by The Citadel Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Stage adaptation by Tim Wood

Further reading

  • Read The Citadel Theatre’s Pride and Prejudice – Edmonton Sun
  • Preview Prevue – Pride and Prejudice – Vue Weekly, Edmonton
  • Review Adapted Without Prejudice – Edmonton Journal
  • Review Romantic Comedy Sparkles in Delightful Adaptation – Edmonton Journal
  • Review Taking Pride in Ending Austen Prejudice – The Gateway, The Official Student newspaper at Univeristy of Alberta