Theater is some kind of magic. At first, the classroom is ordinary, stripped of any color, prop, or form of embellishment. But when visiting director Mark Lamos and University of Miami student actors get to work, the rehearsal room is instantly transformed into a 19th-century country home, the perfect setting for the musical adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
The production, with a single performance this Wednesday, has been the project of Mark Lamos and a group of student actors for little over two weeks, requiring the group as a whole to decide on lines and strive to make the script more of an adaptation than a duplication of the text.
“Let’s invent some scenes that could have been invented by Jane Austen but would be great for a musical theater piece,” Lamos said of the script and the kind of work he expects from his cast.
As the actors perform, it is almost too easy to forget that they are performing in an empty classroom on the second floor of Hecht Residential College.
“Wonderful. They’re so great. They’re eager and very, very smart,” said Lamos about the students with whom he’s had the pleasure to work. And the students who have been working with this four-time Tony Award winner and former artistic director of Hartford Stage have many great things to say about Lamos as well.
“He explains the subtext of everything in the script so we can understand because some of the language is elevated. And just the energy he brings just pumps everyone up,” said Megan Moran, who plays Jane Bennet.
Samantha Courtight, a musical theater major who is playing Jane Austen and Charlotte Lucas, gave great insight into the kind of experience the students have received while working with such an accredited director.
“He expects a lot from you, which is really appreciated because you go in there working really hard, and he gives you praise that lets you know if you need to bring up your game,” she said. “He has a great vision of what he wants and he really engages you with that by describing the scenes to help you know what your character is feeling. It’s been a great experience.”
If You Go:
What: A musical adaptation of the classic Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Where: Gusman Concert Hall
When: April 8 at 8 p.m.
Price: Free for everyone