In 1811, Jane Austen published her first novel, “Sense and Sensibility.” The highly regarded and well-loved novel has been adapted several times as a movie and for the stage. Adapted for the stage at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in 2014 by Joseph Hanreddy and J.R. Sullivan, “Sense and Sensibility” comes to PCPA.
It is a well-acted and earnest production, under the direction of Roger DeLaurier, conservatory director and associate artistic director.
Elinor Dashwood, played by Shae Palic, is a level-headed young woman and her sister Marianne (Sierra Wells) is an artistic and hopeful dreamer. Along with their mother, Mrs. Dashwood (Elizabeth Stuart), they are losing their home after the death of their father, Henry Dashwood.
The estate is given to their stepbrother John (Adam Schroeder), who is convinced by his uptight wife with a superiority complex, Fanny (Jennifer Holcombe), to move there and displace the Dashwoods. The women are forced to move to a lesser place on the property of Sir John Middleton, a very funny Michael Tremblay.
Before moving, Marianne falls in love with John Willoughby (Riley Shanahan), while ignoring the interest of Colonel Brandon (Andrew Philpot). Elinor forms a lovely relationship with Edward Ferrars (Matt Koenig).
During the events of the story, there is a lot of humor and heartbreak. The slick writing by Hanreddy and Sullivan is presented nicely by the entire cast. Palic and Wells both have the weight of the entire story on their shoulders, and they do terrific jobs handling the challenge. They are both fine actresses, who have both graduated the PCPA curriculum — Palic in 2012 and Wells in 2014.
Wells is terrific as the emotional younger sister, while Palic does a wonderful job as the more reserved and thoughtful older sister. Koenig, Shanahan and Philpot do outstanding jobs in their roles as the love interests, especially Philpot as the odd man out, who continues to care for the sisters despite getting rebuffed early on.
Several PCPA instructors are good interacting with the younger cast members and student actors in strong supporting roles. Peter S. Hadres, Elizabeth Stuart, Polly Firestone Walker, Kitty Balay, Philpot and Koenig are all wonderful actors and help the story stay strong.
I did have a problem with the length of the play, which runs close to three hours. About 30 minutes could have been removed without hurting the flow of the story. Two approximately 90-minute acts are a bit too long for my taste and could seem even longer if the acting was subpar, which for the most part saves this production.
The scenic design by Dave Hofsinger is well done and each scene change by the supporting cast members is quick and smooth while the play continues on. A couple of times some of the dialogue was washed out by some scene change music.
“Sense and Sensibility” is a well-acted and lovely production.