Musical Theater Heritage’s Prejudice & Pride does Jane Austen justice in Southern take on classic novel

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P.T. Mahoney, Tim Ahlenius, and Christian Owen stalk across the stage in a musical number. // Courtesy Brian Paulette

Prejudice & Pride, the brainchild of local actor Sam Wright and British director Nicholas Collett, took the Musical Theater Heritage stage from July 8 to 24. 

The musical is a modern, gender-flipped take on the original Austen novel, centering on characters Bennett Longborn (Wright) and Darcy Fitzwilliams (Bridget Casad). 

Longborn and his brothers are pressured by their parents to marry rich before they lose their family farm in East Tennessee. Fitzwilliams is a wealthy singer who appears in town just as the family is losing hope of finding their sons a match, but Longborn initially wants nothing to do with her. 

Tim Ahlenius as the dim-witted Longborn father and Christian Owen as his similarly oblivious youngest son put the com in rom-com. Ahlenius in particular does a brilliant job of switching from the molasses-brained dad to a high-powered politician in his dual role. 

Filled with laughter, clever dialogue, and a timely poke at Sen. Josh Hawley’s cowardice, this musical proves that Austen’s romantic comedy is anything but washed up. If only all hot takes on classic lit were as refreshing as Clueless and this. 

Wright and Collett play many different roles in the production’s success, as do the talented cast, but the highlight of the show is the music.  

As a founding member of not one, but two local folk bands, Sam Wright knows his way around a banjo. Sam Wright & The Bard Owls and Gullywasher are both talented and worthy additions to the music scene. 

Although I only caught the tail end of performances here in KC, I’m proud to have Prejudice & Pride representing our city at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Aug. 5-27.

Categories: Theater