Tall, tan and handsome Mr. Darcy kneels before his love in a grand, romantic gesture, amid marble steps and that hold lush bouquets of multicolored flowers. His purple velvet peacoat reveals stature, elegance and good taste, and he should be the man of anyone’s dreams. Elizabeth Bennet, however, sneers at his proposal and indignantly questions why he would deign to show his face to her in the first place — but she has her reasons, and she isn’t afraid to say them.
Streaming Musicals Steps Into 1813
The musical streams back to 1813, when Jane Austen published the novel it is based on. In this writer’s opinion, this performance of the classic novel hits all the romantic points every version of Pride and Prejudice should. Bennet, played by Mary Mattison, and Darcy, played by Justin Mortelliti, display such intimate stage chemistry, their eyes glisten if they even look at each other, but they also show so much tension the veins on their necks bulge when they argue.
But the acting isn’t all that sends us back to 1813. Minimal, simple furniture — a dainty wooden couch with floral patterns, a plain dark wood table and stool combination, a lone tea set — decorates the Bennet household. And each place Mr. Darcy dwells is covered with abundant finery: velvet drapes, metal statues and candelabras and servant-kept gardens, just to name a few.
And much like how the set highlights each family’s stature, each character’s quirks are highlighted by their period costumes. Over the course of the musical, Bennet is draped in several different flowing, short sleeved dresses with blue patterns, which set her apart from the rest of the cast, who mostly wear variations of oranges and reds. Darcy, played by Justin Mortelliti, is always dressed in decadent, thick-cuffed peacoats, which are often also a variation of blue. Both of these characters’ costume layouts, in this reviewer’s opinion, lead down a one-way road to Swoon Town.
Despite the setting, each song is upbeat and contemporary. The soundtrack is filled with stings and riffs that are telling of twenty-first century music, and the multitude of charmingly bright harmonies never allow for a dull moment in a non-solo number. The solos, meanwhile, are nearly all powerful, heartfelt ballads.
Some songs are backed simply with the strum of a guitar, along with a few percussive notes, but the lungs on the actors say all that needs to be conveyed. With each voice streaming bright and proud, there is not a weak songster in the house, in this reviewer’s opinion.
Pride and Prejudice Prejudices
That said, anyone looking for a Pride and Prejudice with no contemporary elements should not pick this version.
But there are several people who should not steer clear of this one. Anyone looking for a tension-filled, slow burn rom-com for movie night and anyone who enjoys historical fiction should take a look at this stream. Further, people who are looking to better understand Pride and Prejudice but who are confused by the dated language and references in the book and movies should rent this musical. Because the songs are contemporary-- the soundtrack is entirely in the present-- many may find the show’s vocabulary is simpler and more effective for a modern audience who does not always understand nineteenth century diction.
Mary Mattison (Elizabeth Bennet), Justin Mortelliti (Mr. Darcy), Travis Leland (Mr. Bingley), Heather Orth (Mrs. Bennet), Sharon Rietkirk (Jane Bennet), Lucinda Hitchcock Cone (Lady Catherine De Bourgh / Mrs. Gardiner), Christopher Vettel (Mr. Bennet/Pemberley Steward)
Robert Kelley (Director)
Paul Gordon (Book, Lyrics, Music)
Tyler Milliron (Director of Photography)
$4.99 to rent; $19.99 to purchase
Photos courtesy of Streaming Musicals.
About the Author:
Summer Hoagland-Abernathy is a Columbia College Chicago senior, working toward a double B.A. in journalism and playwriting. Her two passions coalesce in her love for theatre review, but when she's not writing, she can be spotted with a mug of chocolate milk in her hand and her hair piled high in a scrunchie, attempting to organize get-togethers with family, friends and her beloved. And if that doesn't help, look for the woman with a background in martial arts, who seems to be kicking the air for no apparent reason.