‘Pride and Prejudice’ opens on Halloween weekend

By:Tristan Leach

In its second show of the semester, Rider’s School of Fine and Performing Arts brought Jane Austen’s famous novel to life on Oct. 29 in their production of “Pride and Prejudice.” 

This is the second show to open within a matter of weeks, with “Pippin” opening this semester’s season on Sep 15. The play is an adaptation of Austen’s novel and was reworked by theater Director Jon Jory. “Pride and Prejudice” tells the story of Elizabeth Bennet in her journey to do the one thing a woman in the 1800s is to do: Marry well and boost the status of herself and her family.

The excitement of opening night hung in the air. Students attending the play greeted each other with huge smiles, talking about how excited they were to see their friends performing again after a year and a half of no live theater. Families that knew each other caught up and excitedly talked about their children. Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo was in the audience of the opening night show. 

The show is a minimalist retelling with a simple set and several actors playing more than one role. This grounded approach to the show allowed audience members to fully engage in the story and what the actors were saying. 

Sophomore Sarah Defrates, who is an undecided major said, “I really enjoy the minimalistic props. I really think it lets the audience focus on the whole show, on the actors.” 

The show was received very well, audience members could be seen with bouquets for their friends or family members in the show. 

When the cast took their bows, one audience member threw two red roses up onto the stage for the show’s leads Sophie Friedman,  a junior acting major, who played Elizabeth Bennet and senior John Ververis, a musical theater major, played Mr. Darcy. The cast was met with a standing ovation and loud cheers from the audience. 

This was a dream come true for cast and crew alike. COVID-19 inhibited the ability to do shows live for a year and a half. The actors did not wear masks on stage, but it was required of the audience. The smiles on the actor’s faces as they took their bows was heartwarming for everyone in the audience and working the show. 

Kaedon Knight, who played several roles including that of Mr. Bingley, was smiling wide when asked about how it felt to be performing again. 

Knight, a junior musical theater major, said, “Performing live again feels amazing. You can ask anyone in the cast and they would all say it’s just amazing to have the energy of an audience back, to have someone in the audience besides the crew and have new people see it every night. It just gives us a whole new energy, and it reminds us why we do theater.” 

Robin Shane, the plays costume designer and a professor at Rider said, “It was very exciting to me to be able to design a period piece, which we don’t do often at Rider. Teaching the actors how to move in these very elaborate and decorative costumes, particularly the men, was very satisfying. Men are not used to wearing so many frills and being in those high waisted pants really changed how they moved. Costumes can really change the physicality of an actor.” 

After taking their final bows, the cast rushed off stage to meet with their friends and families. Excitement hung in the air as everyone waited for their loved one to come out. Both lobbies were packed with people. Friends and family clapped for the cast and crew as they exited into the lobbies of The Yvonne Theater. 

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