July 24th, 2023

Pride and Prejudice reimagined, at Gallery Theater

5 people wearing white dresses with colorful accents smile as they rest their arms around each others' shoulders.
Members of the cast try on their costumes. Photo by Ali Bean.

One of English literature’s most popular novels of all time will land on stage at Gallery Theater this weekend, brought to life by local actors and theater artists working from a script penned by one of the hottest playwrights in America. 

Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, dramatized by Kate Hamill in a 2017 script, will debut Friday in the theater’s black box for a 3-week run. Directed by Katrina Godderz, performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 13. 

Gallery’s promise is that “this isn’t your grandmother’s Austen!” But don’t worry, says Godderz. “The script manages to hit all the main plot points of the book, so people who love Pride and Prejudice will not be disappointed.”

Godderz has been active in theater since high school and recently moved to McMinnville from Olympia. She appeared in the ensembles last year for Mamma Mia! and played Vera in And Then There Were None. Most recently, she directed the well-received one-act, The Actor in January. 

Most of the book’s iconic characters are here: The dashing country aristocrat Fitzwilliam Darcy is played by a familiar Gallery actor, Nehemiah Creel. Ali Bean plays “Lizzy,” the novel’s heroine, Elizabeth Bennett. V. Simone Stewart is the “uber-haughty” Lady Catherine DeBourgh, Megan Read plays Mrs. Bennett, and Ericka Fox plays Wickham.

Pride and Prejudice was published in three parts  in 1813 and the first edition sold out within a year. It has been in print continuously since and retold and reimagined in a variety of ways on stage, film, television and even on the page, perhaps most audaciously in the 2009 novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Hamill is one of the most-produced playwrights in America since 2017, when she was named “Playwright of the Year” by The Wall Street Journal, and has a prolific output of plays that reimagine classic texts with a feminist spin: The Sherlock Holmes stories inspired her Ms. Holmes and Ms. Watson. Bram Stoker’s famous vampire novel became Dracula: a feminist revenge fantasy

Godderz says the play is full of laughs, physical comedy, dancing, romance, snobbery, music, surprises, inside jokes, and much more. 

“If you’re a fan of the book, you’ll recognize some of the dialogue,” Godderz says. “I see this play as commenting more on the time of Pride and Prejudice than on the book itself.” Present day, she adds, “has quite a different set of social rules and expectations than 1815 and the script has a few moments where it gives nod to a recognition of this, but it’s not trying to rewrite the story.”

Gallery’s  box office is open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and on show days starting one hour before curtain. Tickets may be purchased there or online at www.gallerytheater.org. For more information, call 503-472-2227.

David Bates is a McMinnville writer who has appeared in Gallery Theater productions since 1998.