Lyric turns timeless literary favourite pride and prejudice into a musical

13 August 2013

Jane Austen fever is in the air. The English novelist may have died nearly 200 years ago but she continues to make the news with her face to appear on the ten pound note and a controversy surrounding the sale of her ring to US singer Kelly Clarkson.

Austen fans will be delighted then to catch a new musical adaptation of her best-loved novel, Pride and Prejudice which opens at the Everyman Cork this week and then comes to the Lyric Theatre Belfast on 5 September.

The co-production stars Hazel Gardner as Lizzie (The Sound of Music) and Neil McDermott, best known as Ryan Malloy from Eastenders, who plays the swoonsome Mr Darcy.

For those who haven’t read the Jane Austen novel, caught the TV series or seen the movies…the story centres on the Bennets who have been blessed with five daughters. It is Mrs Bennet’s mission to see them all married to eminently suitable suitors. After all, “it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single gentleman in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”. As luck would have it a wealthy young gentleman has just taken up residence in the neighbourhood…

In this delectable, romantic comedy, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and pokes gentle fun at the affectations and etiquette of provincial middle-class life.

Whilst remaining faithful to the novel, Mark Dougherty’s musical score and Robin Peoples’ gorgeously elegant set and costumes will create a delightful new setting within which the romance between Elizabeth Bennet and the proud but dashing Mr Darcy can blossom.

Designer, Robin Peoples, who is originally from Derry, created last summer’s sumptuous production of The Importance of Being Earnest at the Lyric.

The full cast line-up is: Christina Nelson, Gerard McCabe, Ben Sleep, Holly Ashton, Matt Blaker, Tara Dixon, Richard Clements, Colette Lennon, Jessie May, together with musicians Mark Dougherty and Wilson Shields.

Lyric Artistic Director, Richard Croxford who is directing the show described Pride and Prejudice – the Musical as “a visual and musical treat”.

“We are delighted to open the autumn season with this lavish new show in conjunction with Everyman Cork,” he said. “We have a very talented line-up of acting and singing talent, led by Hazel Gardner and Neil McDermott but also including Belfast talent such as Christina Nelson who recently won lots of young fans in our Christmas musical Hansel + Grettel. Christina will play the irrepressible Mrs Bennet.

“With set and costume designer Robin Peoples and local composer Mark Dougherty on board, this will be both a visual and musical treat.”

Michael Barker-Caven, Artistic Director at The Everyman in Cork said: “‘We are delighted to team up with Richard and all at the Lyric on this truly exciting venture.  A new musical, and one as ambitious as this, is something the City of Cork is thrilled to partner and we are especially delighted that the premiere will take place at the Everyman. Our two great theatres have a proud and illustrious history so here’s to a successful long-term relationship as rewarding and as keenly felt as that of Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet!”

Pride and Prejudice – the Musical opens in The Everyman Theatre, Cork from Wed 14 – Sat 31 August and then runs on the Danske Bank Stage, at the Lyric from 5 September to 6 October (preview Thurs 5 Sept 1.30pm). Tickets from £10 – £24.50.