Friday, November 16 , 2018, 5:15 am | Fair 46º


Ensemble Holiday Show: Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley

Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC) has announced its new holiday show is Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, a comedy adapted for the stage by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon. The production runs Nov. 30-Dec. 17.

Directed by Andrew Barnicle, this regional-theater hit is a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and reunites its characters to place the bookish middle sister, Mary Bennet, in the limelight.

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley follows the Pride and Prejudice characters as they gather at Pemberley, the distinguished home of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy in the early 19th century.

Character Mary Bennet grows tired of her role as the innocent sister in the face of her siblings’ whirlwind romances. When the family gathers for Christmas at Pemberley, an unexpected guest sparks Mary’s hopes for romance.

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley has charmed critics and audiences nationwide, and was a hit in its National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere in 2016.

The production is a “droll and quite delicious seasonal sequel to ‘Pride and Prejudice' ... an unstuffy, highly entertaining and warm-spirited work, the kind of thing multiple generations can enjoy together,” wrote Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune.

“When my co-author Margot Melcon and I started Miss Bennet, we wanted to create a holiday story for everyone that explores the complexities of family and love," said Gunderson.

“It had to be funny, moving, romantic and smart. It had to be something Jane Austen would approve of,” she said.

Gunderson has had more than 20 of her works produced and has been recognized by American Theatre Magazine as the most-produced living playwright in the U.S.

Melcon is the Zellerbach Family Foundation’s Executive for promoting culture and spent seven years as an artist and administrator at Marin Theater Company.

As their director of new play development, Melcon has worked as a dramatist on six world premieres and has administered the company’s two annual new play prizes.

“This play was a joy to discover,” said ETC’s artistic director Jonathan Fox.

“For the first time in several years, we are presenting a holiday play that actually takes place at the holidays," Fox said. "The play sparkles with Jane Austen’s style of wit, and I’m pleased that it brings director Andrew Barnicle back to ETC.”

Actors in Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley have backgrounds in TV, film, theater and Broadway. The cast includes:

Erin Barnes (Jane), Paul Culos (Arthur), Donnla Hughes (Mary), Samantha Eggers (Anne), Caroline Innerbichler (Lydia), Matthew Koenig (Bingley), Christian Pedersen (Darcy) and Paige Lindsay White (Lizzie).

Barnicle, directed the ETC productions of Venus in Fur, Fallen Angels and Chapter Two, and served as artistic director of the Laguna Playhouse from 1991 through 2010. He produced more than 100 Playhouse shows and directed more than 40 of them.

Barnicle's recent directing projects at Laguna include Lissa Levin’s Sex and Education starring Julia Duffy, Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine, Noel Coward’s Private Lives, and Ron Hutchinson’s Moonlight and Magnolias.

Ticket prices range from $20-$50. The 2017-18 season subscriptions start at $150 for a five-play preview series. Student subscriptions are available for $90; subscriptions for theatergoers ages 29 and under are $150.

The production of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley is sponsored by the Stephen and Carla Hahn Foundation, in partnership with Montecito Bank and Trust. ETC’s 2017-18 season is sponsored by Leatrice Luria.

For more information, visit:

— Cinnamon Thompson/Kim L. Hunter for Ensemble Theatre Company.


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