‘Sense and Sensibility’ Opens IRT’s 50th Season In Fitting Fashion

September 20, 2022

L-R Elizabeth Laidlaw, Cereyna Jade Bougouneau, Devan Mathias, Ron Rains and Helen Joo Lee. Courtesy of Zach Rosing. Used with permission.

It was supposed to run in 2020, but COVID put the kibosh on the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s production of “Sense and Sensibility.” On Friday night, it finally opened. Adapted by Jessica Swale from the Jane Austen novel of same title, published anonymously in 1811, the play was presented on IRT’s OneAmerica Mainstage.

L-R Cereyna Jade Bougouneau and Las Shawn Banks. Courtesy of Zach Rosing. Used with permission

Peter Amster, who has overseen many previous productions at Indiana’s premier professional theatre, directed the play, which opens the IRT’s 50th season. Another IRT regular, Priscilla Lindsay, who has performed numerous times throughout IRT’s history, was a member of the racially diverse cast. Following in the wake of Black Lives Matter, the casting of people of color in a classic such as this, or any work for that matter, is a welcome trend, long overdue in the theatre.

“Sense and Sensibility” follows the three Dashwood sisters, forced to move with their widowed mother from Norland Park, the estate where they grew up. Because the family home is passed down to John, a son of Mr. Dashwood and his greedy wife Fanny, the four Dashwood women need to look for a new home. Left with no other option, they rent a modest home, Barton Cottage, on the property of a distant relative, Sir John Middleton. It is there that two of the sisters, Elinor and Marianne, experience romance, love, and heartbreak.

L-R Helen Joo Lee, Cereyna Jade Bougouneau, Nate Santana and Devan Mathias. Courtesy of Zach Rosing. Used with permission

Under Amster’s impeccable direction, the quality of the acting was stellar. Standing out were two actors with local ties. One was former Indy resident, the previously mentioned Lindsay and current resident, Devon Matthias. What they both have in common is their extraordinary talent as accomplished character actors. Lindsay was a sheer delight to observe as the fussy, meddling Mrs. Jennings and Mathias, playing three different characters, including the mean-spirited Fanny Dashwood, was, indeed, a marvel to behold as she handily practiced her craft.

Once again, in possession of a generous budget making its high-end production values possible, the IRT put its best foot forward with a set by Ann Sheffield with contemporary lines, which incorporated marvelous images created by projections designer, Mike Tutaj. Contributing to the production’s elegance were the 19th-century romantic-style costume designs of Tracy Dorman and the resplendent lighting design of Dawn Chiang. Composer Michael Keck was responsible for the effective mood setting throughout the play. Also deserving of recognition is dialect coach Connie Deveer, who ensured that the British accents employed by the cast sounded authentic and were consistent.

For tickets and information about IRT’s highly engaging “Sense and Sensibility” which runs through October 9, visit irtlive.org.

 

 

 

 

 

photo: Josh Humble

About Tom

Journalist, producer, director, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, arts administrator, TV contributor, actor, model, writer and lyricist, Tom Alvarez has had an extensive career in media and the fine arts and continues to be an enthusiastic and devoted fan of both. His passion and unique background grant him insight, access and perspective to cover, promote and review the arts in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond. Follow him on social media @tomalvarezartswriter and @tomalvarez1.

Alvarez has been writing about theatre, dance, music, cinema and visual arts for 40 years. His work has appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana, Unite Magazine, Dance Magazine, NOTE Magazine, and Examiner.com, among many other print and online platforms. A former contributor to Across Indiana on WFYI-TV, he currently has a regular performing arts segment on WISH-TV’s Life. Style. Live!

A principal of Klein & Alvarez Productions, LLC, Alvarez co-created “Calder, The Musical” and is the managing director of Magic Thread Cabaret. As an actor-model, he has appeared in numerous TV and print ads and is represented by the Helen Wells Agency and Heyman Talent Artists Agency.

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