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SHS Theatre returns with "Pride and Prejudice"

SNOHOMISH — She's repelled by his arrogance and condescension. He's no fan of her, either. But in "Pride and Prejudice," the romantic comedy of manners which Snohomish High has adapted to the theater stage, these two lovers are confronted with setting aside their egos.
The SHS cast returns for a second weekend Dec. 3 and 4, with shows at 7 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday.
At least one the five Bennet sisters must seek a well-off suitor for the sake of maintaining the family. Mr. Darcy, a wealthy man, could fit the order if not for his behavior; his bachelor friends, Mr. Bingley among others, play into the mix.
"The comedy comes from these different personalities interacting," assistant director Jackson Zimmerman said.

Doug Ramsay photo

From left, Snohomish High School sophomores Grace Coman (playing Catherine “Kitty” Bennet), Logan Ferguson (as Wickham) and Neenah Voss (as Lydia Bennet) perform during the Saturday, Nov. 27 afternoon performance of “Pride and Prejudice.”

Sydney Salisbury, who plays central character Elizabeth Bennet, noted Austen’s work takes some studying to understand the character’s thought process. Jayden Montiel debuts as Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth’s foil throughout.
“Once you get a hold of the script, you have to look at why they act this way to each other,” Salisbury said.
Kylie Anderson plays Jane, the eldest of the Bennet sisters.
“We’re finally getting into the run of things,” Anderson said before a final dress rehearsal last week.
The pandemic only modified how shows went.
“We kept them going through COVID,” SHS theater adviser and director Scott Randall said. They performed “It’s a Wonderful Life” last winter over Zoom with whatever students could find for costumes.
“That is how you do theater - you use what you have and adapt,” he said.
This spring’s “Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” was on-stage but with no audience. “Pride and Prejudice,” finally, will be on-stage with an audience of 100 widely spaced theatergoers each night. One added treat: The actors will perform without masks. They’re all either vaccinated or have negative COVID tests in hand.
The troupe largely consists of freshman and sophomore, making “Pride and Prejudice” a big debut for some.
Jane Austen wrote the book in 1813, which gives the actors a range of vocabulary to master.
Ella Byerly and Lila Vice are getting a kick out of playing the loud Mrs. Bennet. She gets to yell, Vice laughed. They’re splitting who’s in the role between performances as the mother has 272 lines.
Byerly is also the show’s lead costumer. She’s been trying to find the costumes that fit the aesthetic of the era.
A few costumes necessitate corsets. “It’s not super-comfortable,”  Byerly said.
Each character wears a distinct wardrobe color to help tell who is who.
Half the cast acts as a family on-stage, but everybody’s becoming a family off stage through theater.
Being in the troupe has been a great experience, said Logan Ferguson, who plays Officer Wickham, the soldier who uses charisma to manipulate situations. “I would do it 100 times again.”
Vice said the show’s been “one of the best experiences I’ve been in.”
Emma Fontenot plays Mary, the demure Bennet sister. The character keeps her nose in a book but trots out observational one-liners. Fontenot adores the role because Mary does whatever she wants.
Bearing from the 1800s, the script is full of old-fashioned words and phrases spoken in Received Pronunciation.
“It makes you think of how we enunciate in an English accent,” Byerly said.
Anderson, as Jane, mentioned she’s been watching TV’s “Downton Abbey” for a reference point.
You have to slow down speaking with the accent to make it comprehensible to audiences, Salisbury noted.
Some plays get ruined by heavy accents, Randall, the theater adviser who's a a theater veteran, mentioned.
The stage layout is meant to be open so people can watch other characters’ nonverbal reactions in the background.
The stage has five archways and four floral arrangements, stage manager Grace Donohue said.
“Our main thing with this set is we wanted to set the tone and have lots of flowers” to present romance.
Tim Sheldt is using pink and green stage lighting to give an ambience. The high school senior aims to study engineering, and the role illuminating the stage helps ground him in lighting techniques.
Luke McClellan plays the buttondown Mr. Bingley. He’d had to balance his character’s clear affection for the sisters while keeping restraint in presenting himself.
To meet the measure, the characters “go big” and tune it down to hit the right mark, Salisbury said.
The comedy of manners has subtleties and a bit of slapstick. Somebody gets a glass vase nearly broken over their head. It’s real glass.
“Our show is really focused on bringing out the comedy,” Zimmerman said.
Won’t you join them?
Tickets are $13 for general admission, and $10 for seniors and students with ASB card, Purchase tickets through
Shows are Friday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 4 at 1 and 7 p.m.
Masks are required to attend.




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