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'Pride and Prejudice' amidst a pandemic: SET opens stage show with COVID protocols

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Elliot Lucero
South Eugene Theatre
Clara Christensen as Elizabeth Bennet, and Brennan Connelly as Mr. Darcy, in a publicity photo from SET.

In its first public, on-stage performance in nearly two years, South Eugene Theater is presenting "Pride and Prejudice" for audiences this Friday (Nov. 12).

This classic period story inspired by Jane Austen’s 1813 novel finds its characters grappling with stifling societal mores and their own cynicism over affairs of the heart.

“This isn’t your grandmother’s Austen!” states an official SET release. “Bold, surprising, boisterous, and timely, this P&P for a new era explores the absurdities and thrills of finding your perfect (or imperfect) match in life.

Elliot Lucero
Clara Christensen plays Elizabeth Bennet, and Brennan Connelly plays Mr. Darcy, in SET's production of 'Pride and Prejudice.'

“The outspoken Lizzy Bennet is determined to never marry, despite mounting pressure from society. But can she resist love, especially when that vaguely handsome, mildly amusing, and impossibly aggravating Mr. Darcy keeps popping up at every turn?!”

This latest adaptation was written by Kate Hamill, and is directed by John Monteverde.

“It has a lively, high-energy feel to it,” says Monteverde, on this version. “It doesn’t feel stodgy and 'Masterpiece Theater' like. It mines the comedy in the show, and really makes the romantic elements feel contemporary with the humanness of the characters, and the awkwardness and the excitement.”

He says COVID protocols have been challenging, but they’ve worked to keep the cast, crew, and audience safe.

“We’ve cut the kissing scenes, but there’s no way to get six feet apart on a stage that size with that many people. The crew is masked, everybody stays masked backstage, it’s pretty much the same protocols as sporting events.”

This is SET’s first show of the 2021-22 season. It features Clara Christensen as Elizabeth Bennet, Brennan Connelly as Mr. Darcy, Marley Moore as Mrs. Bennet, Cora Craft as Jane Bennet and Henry Davis-Piger as Charles Bingley,

Margaret Bull
The cast of "House and Garden", the last live mainstage performance by SET in Feb. 2020.

SET’s last on-stage show was "House and Garden", back in February 2020. Weeks later, the COVID-19 pandemic came to Oregon, shutting down many gatherings and public venues.

"Pride and Prejudice" begins its first of six performances this Friday, November 12th. People are encouraged to buy tickets online. Seating will also be socially distanced between families or “pods”.

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.