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Cappies: Nerinx succeeds with 'Prejudice'

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 20, 2012 - What do you get when you have five daughters and meager finances in 19th century England? A high demand for wealthy husbands! The cast of Nerinx Hall’s production of “Pride and Prejudice” humorously and skillfully performed Jon Jory’s adaptation of this classic comedy of manners.

Jory’s work is based on Jane Austin’s acclaimed 1813 novel. Since its release, the novel has never been out of print and has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide, as well as inspired numerous film, television and theater adaptations.

Set in the society of landed gentry in 19th century England, the story begins when a wealthy bachelor – Mr. Bingly – moves into the neighborhood of the relatively poor Bennet family. Mrs. Bennet immediately tries to set him up with one of her five daughters. Mr. Bingly soon falls for the eldest daughter, Jane, while the second daughter, Elizabeth, finds Mr. Bingly’s friend, Mr. Darcy, excessively condescending. As the story unfolds, the issues of upbringing, marriage, and manners are explored as many characters have to confront their pride and prejudices. At the end, love and acceptance prevail for Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.

The entire cast brought to life the 1800s with their period style dancing, dedication to the characters, constant engagement, and consistent British accents. However, during the first half of the some characters lacked energy and the show became rather slow, but after intermission energy picked up.

Claire Wenzel starred as the intelligent and head strong Elizabeth Bennet, and had a strong presence on stage. Opposite her was the mysterious and aloof Mr. Darcy, who was played charmingly by Sam Herbig.

Lizzie Masson shined as Mrs. Bennet, never failing to make the audience laugh with the marvelously eccentric character she created. Whenever she came on, the stage lit up with her wonderful, consistently high, and contagious energy.

The entire Bennet family was also a delight. The two youngest daughters played by Maggie Hogan and Nhi Tang brought life and energy to the stage with their girly giggles and infectious enthusiasm. Paul Fister as Mr. Bennet had a natural presence on stage, Megg Lorbert as Jane Bennet played her sweet, idealist character well, and Stephanie Ruck as bookish and snarky Mary Bennet was entertaining.

The show benefited greatly from its talented supporting cast. Mary Fedora had electrifying energy and utilized her limited stage time to its greatest potential. Will Stupp created a truly unique character for Mr. Collins that kept the audience laughing. Both Carolyn Cowling as the mean and proud Miss Bingly and Maggie Ostapowicz as the kind and the motherly Aunt Gardiner had much grace on stage.

The stage managers also deserve to be commended for their success in ensuring that the show went smoothly, never missing a cue.

The cast of Nerinx Hall’s production of Pride and Prejudice has reason to be proud. Their hard work and talent in tackling such an ambitious and challenging piece was truly “smashing!”

Tally Portnoi is a student at Mary Institute St. Louis Country Day School. Cappies are reviews by high school students of high school plays.