By W. Derek Russell
TUPELO – If author Jane Austen and director Julie Grisham have anything in common, it’s the cast of characters they both are juggling in the latest play from Pied Piper Players.
“Lizzy, Darcy and Jane” interweaves the story of Austen’s writing “Pride and Prejudice,” mixing in experiences and altercations with the book’s well-known protagonist, Elizabeth Bennet, as Austen herself faces off against love and heartache.
“I’m a full-fledged Austen-ite,” Grisham said. “I looked into doing the play adaptations of one of her six novels but I stumbled onto this what-if show of what would happen if she met her characters and talked to them and they were part of her life. I thought that would be more interesting for the kids to do.”
While the show wasn’t written for children to perform, Grisham said its heart and humor are for all ages.
“Because I’m often directing the older kids, I like to do something a little more serious and challenging,” she said. “I always look into doing plays for adults that can be performed by youth. It’s not even an adaptation, because this is the play as it’s written and as it was first performed. But I knew when I read it that if I had kids audition that were serious about doing a more mature production, we would be able to pull it off. I always like to do something that’s not traditionally for kids to prove that they’re just as capable as pulling off a production intended for older actors.”
Pulling from Austen’s playbook, Grisham has enjoyed playing in the sandbox and bringing the characters she loves to life.
“People who are familiar with Austen will love it because they will know all those characters that stand out from the novel and the film adaptations. People who are familiar with the work will obviously enjoy all the small nuances, but I think anyone who doesn’t know her or the story will love it too. It’s really for everyone.”
DIM THE LIGHTS
• What: Pied Piper Players present “Lizzy, Darcy and Jane”
• When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
• Where: Church Street School Auditorium
• Tickets: $7, $5 children
• Info: (662) 231-1410
• Cast: Kate Burleson (Jane); Brenna Smith (Elizabeth); Camden Petrie (Mr. Bingley/Mr. Collins/Harris); John Doorenbos (Mr. Darcy/Tom); Lilly Marie Odom (Mrs. Austen); Tory Fox (Cassandra); Abrielle Carnathan (Madame Lefroy); Regan Plunkett (Lady Catherine); Ruthann Morgan (Alethea)