The Washington Post

Herndon’s Pride and Prejudice brings iconic love story to life…with grace and style

Pictured: Lydia Bennett (Cate Graney) and Kitty Bennett (Ali Flanagan) (Melanie Miller-Cvilikas)

All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.

Sophie Friedman, a student at W.T. Woodson High School reviews “Pride and Prejudice” performed by Herndon High School , as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program .

In a world where relationships are of utmost importance, it seems unlikely that a rich and well-known man would fall for a woman of few connections. But, as Jane Austen shows in her classic novel “Pride and Prejudice,” preconceptions can only “deceive one’s heart for a little while.” Love may transcend class boundaries, and in the end one’s inner beauty is most important when it comes to romance.

This weekend, Herndon High School reminded their audience of this message in their presentation of Jane Kendall’s 1942 adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1813 novel. Since Austen’s initial publication, there have been a plethora of adaptations of the classic work, some of the most popular being two film adaptations, starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in one and Kiera Knightly as Elizabeth Bennet in another. As the story is heavily based on dialogue and setting, it seems difficult to perform on stage, but the Herndon cast and crew tackled the challenge with grace.

Leading the cast of iconic characters was Mark Guaglione as the introverted and prideful Mr. Darcy and Lauren Gabriel as the headstrong and prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet. Guaglione portrayed a clearly distressed yet surprisingly sweet Mr. Darcy, while Gabriel played up the quick-witted and protective nature of Elizabeth. Gabriel was particularly emotive in her entertaining and convincing facial expressions.

Paralleling the well-known relationship was the equally iconic romance between Mr. Bingley (Paul Morgan) and Jane Bennet (Sanam Hashemi). Morgan was charming as the sweet and adoring Mr. Bingley, and the audience had no trouble believing the chemistry between Bingley and Jane. Hashemi was touching with her grace and natural quiet composure as Jane, but was even more impressive with her heart wrenchingly convincing crying on stage.

The lovers were joined by a mélange of interesting characters, ranging from the creepily comic Mr. Collins (Chris Hrozencik) to the harsh but poised Miss Bingley (Megan Overton). The ensemble of the Bennet sisters was quite engaging; Kitty (Ali Flanigan) and Lydia (Cate Graney) were particularly fun and dynamic. The relative ages of the five Bennet sisters were clearly established through distinct differences in mannerisms and composure. The Bennet family was crowned by their mother hen Mrs. Bennet (Tessa Kelly), who was overly dramatic as a protective mother who only wants the best for her daughters. Mr. Bennet (Mitchell Rubin) provided a calm foil to his drama queen wife.

Containing the drama was a gigantic set of the Bennet house, which created various areas including a sitting room, an upstairs, and various gardens with live flowers. Handmade costumes were well-crafted and mostly reflected the style of the era. Adding atmosphere was original string quartet music composed by student Nicholas Black. The appropriately period music was showcased in a lovely ballroom scene that involved no dialogue, yet clearly established the relationships among the characters. All of the actors made a commendable attempt to perform with British accents, but some performers were not consistent. Overall, Herndon High School’s production paid appropriate homage to the classic and touching romance of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.


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