‘Pride and Prejudice’ to open at Orcas Center in March

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Orcas Center’s first production of 2022 will be two weekends of wit and wisdom with “Pride and Prejudice.”

“It will be a frolicking, fun evening,” said director Dorrie Braun, who is also playing Mrs. Bennet. “There will be lots of laughter and smiles. Austen’s characters are really full of flaws, funny and fun to watch. The language is wonderful. My number one goal is that the cast has fun and the audience has fun.”

“Pride and Prejudice,” a play by Kate Hamill, is based on the novel by Jane Austen. The production focuses on Mrs. Bennet’s determination to get her daughters married in the late 1700s. Jane, Elizabeth (Lizzie) and Lydia are alive during a time when a woman’s only career path is marriage. But Lizzie’s heart is her primary decision-maker and she catches the eye of more than one man over the course of the play. “Pride and Prejudice” is considered one of the first romantic comedies and since its original publication in 1813, the story has withstood the test of time.

Performances will be March 10-12 and 17-19 at 7 p.m. and March 13 at 1 p.m. The tiered tickets are $47, $25 and $15 at www.orcascenter.org.

Braun is a classically trained opera singer, piano player and actress who owned a theatre in Los Angeles prior to moving to Orcas. She has a bachelor’s degree in music from Stanford, a master’s degree in music from Claremont Graduate University as well as a law degree from the USC School of Law. She originally planned to direct “Pride and Prejudice” in the Village Green but Orcas Center’s artistic director Jake Perrine encouraged her to produce it on the main stage.

Braun first played Mrs. Bennet in high school. Three years ago, in Culver City, California, she auditioned and was given the role again.

“It’s like an alter ego. There is something about Mrs. Bennet — for better or worse — that is a part of me,” she said. “It comes so naturally, which is a little scary because she’s crazy!”

The cast members possess what Braun calls a “wide variety” of acting experience.

“What’s extraordinary is that you are doing theatre with your neighbors!” she laughed, adding that it’s very different from her time in L.A.

The play also stars Tom Fiscus as Mr. Bennet, Kelsey Hamilton as Elizabeth, Indy Zoeller as Darcy, Geoff George as Bingley, Marjorie Blaine as Jane, Sofia Poe as Lydia, Jamey Moriarty as Wickham, Alia Hynek as Miss Bingley, Sukima Hampton as Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Ed Lambert as Hill and Fitzwilliam, Catherine Petroff as Lady Lucas and Mrs. Gardner and Mary Taylor as Charlotte and Maggie. The role of Collins is being played by two actors: Ian Grendon on March 10 and 17-19 and Chris Dalla Santa on March 11-13. Dalla Santa is a former Orcas resident who is coming from Seattle to perform the role.

“He is coming back to jump in having never seen any of the cast or been to rehearsals,” explained Braun.

The backstage crew includes stage manager Lisa Spesard, set designer and builder Dane Steck, costume manager Lynda Sanders, make-up consultant Melinda Milligan and seamstress Barbara Bentley. Perrine is overseeing lights and projections and is the sound designer.

The cast’s first read-through was at the end of October. Rehearsals began in November at Braun’s home and transitioned to Orcas Center in December.

“It’s been a very long process,” she said. “The idea of the early rehearsals was to give everyone a chance to develop relationships and their characters. It was low-key and fun. Once we moved to January it was all about blocking and February has been running the show and then the pressure starts to build.”

It was only very recently that cast members felt safe enough to remove their masks.

“Some of us had never seen each other faces,” Braun said. “It was hysterical. We couldn’t stop looking at each other.”

Orcas Center photo

Orcas Center photo