Jane Austen’s tale of three sisters now at the PA Shakespeare Festival

Although retired since 2014, I still relish opportunities to teach, write, and share opinions.
Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, adapted for the stage by renowned British playwright and director Jessica Swale, is now onstage at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival in Center Valley, PA, until August 5. It is well worth a visit to see the famous novel spring to life. 
You may have read the novel,or seen one of the many film versions on the screen or on television, but there’s always something new to discover in Austen.
When seeing a film version, it might not occur to you (as it does after a while when reading the novel), how young the characters are, and how they see each other. Of the three Dashwood sisters, Elinor is 19, Marianne, 16, and Margaret, 13. The widowed Mrs. Dashwood is 40. Colonel Brandon, “the wrong side of 35,” meaning 36 or 37, while dashing, young John Willoughby is 25, and Edward Ferrars is 23.  
According to the program, the time and place are “Beginning of the 1800s in England.” Sense and Sensibility was published in 1811, so a few years earlier might be right. The story involves a widow and her three daughters who are ejected from their manor because their half-brother has legal claim to the estate. Mrs. Dashwood secures a cottage on the estate of a cousin, Sir John Middleton. Their story involves the necessity of women getting married well. 
The actors were a seamless ensemble of the highest caliber. Elinor was the phenomenal Sarah Gliko, Margaret was the no-nonsense Nicole Lawrie, and Marianne, the indefatigable and often storm-tossed Arrianna Daniels. Gina Lamparella was a superbly controlled Mrs. Dashwood. John Austin was the seducer Willoughby, and  Colonel Brandon was played to be a strong, silent type by Gregory Isaac. Akeem Davis was the young, shy Edward Ferrars, who played his part with natural grace. The dashing, handsome figures of Mr. Palmer and Mr. John Dashwood were both played by the tall, dark, handsome and taciturn David Pica. Bravos to Costume Designer Leigh Paradise who lavished sartorial splendor on both arresting characters. 
Music plays a role in Sense and Sensibility in that Handel is mentioned as a composer for Marianne to play. One readily thinks of a sublime song that echoes the storm, and struggle, the confusion, and resolution of Sense and Sensibility from Handel via Shakespeare and Milton:
As steals the morn upon the night
And melts the shades away:
So Truth does Fancy’s charm dissolve
And rising Reason puts to flight
The fumes that did the mind involve
Restoring intellectual day
L’Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Moderato, HWV 55, Handel
A wonderful play to leave you bouncing and flouncing gaily out of the theatre, do see Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.
Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility will be
at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival in Center Valley, PA, until August 5. For information about this show and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, visit their website,

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