TNB returns to the stage in December with Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley
After an unexpected and far too lengthy break in producing real, onstage theatre, Theatre New Brunswick will get back on stage, at the Playhouse, in December, with a brand new production of a play that is fast becoming an international holiday favourite. Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon debuted in 2016 and has since become one of the most produced plays south of the border. Over the past few years Canadian productions of the play have started to gain momentum with productions by the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and Citadel Theatre among others. We’re very excited to share this play, this story, and this production with audiences in Fredericton and Saint John next month.
And you may be more familiar with the play than you think. Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley is an imagined sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and centres around Mary, the bookish middle child of the Bennet’s alongside many of Austen’s familiar characters.
Our production will feature a cast of actors and designers from the four Atlantic Provinces under the direction of the impeccably charming and charismatic Ryan G. Hinds.
Ryan first joined us in 2019 for our production of It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play performing alongside Kirsten Alter, Wally MacKinnon, Beau Dixon and the late Jenny Munday. After our first meeting, we knew we had to bring Ryan back to play with us again.
“I look back with such affection for everybody who worked on that show,” says Hinds. “We had a lot of laughs, that crew. We had a lot of fun being together. Being on stage and rehearsing with Jenny Munday was always educational and always fun. She never showed up with less than her all and again, we just laughed a lot. I really loved making her laugh in particular, because Jenny liked to be the one to make other people laugh so it was always a gift when you were able to get a laugh out of her.
“I also got to see so much of New Brunswick because we toured from Fredericton up to the northern part of the province and then back down south. That experience gave me a great introduction to the province.”
Ryan’s return has great significance for all of us. Not only do we get to work together to bring a new holiday show to life, but his presence quite literally bookends this extended break from the stage we’ve been living through. He was in our last onstage show and this time, as director, he will be part of our onstage return. There’s some real poetry happening there. You could almost say it’s some kind of holiday miracle.
“I’m excited. This is my first professional directing job. I’ve directed some indie theatre in Toronto, and I’ve directed some university and college productions, but this is my first big kid equity contract.”
Ryan understands the challenges that come with introducing audiences to a new play, especially during the holiday season. But he’s confident audiences young and old will find lots to connect with when this production opens December 9.
“We love comfort, and we love nostalgia, and we love stories that we remember. Stories that take us back into our memory,” says Hinds. “The holidays are a time when we all get together and sometimes that can be a pressureful experience. So it’s nice to sometimes just turn off your mind for a bit and relax and let a familiar story wash over you.”
“For me, that’s what’s cool about Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. It’s a newer play so it’s not one of the original Christmas canon plays, but we all know those characters. We all know Mr. Darcy. We all know Lizzie. We all know Mary. We all know the Jane Austen setting and the references to Pemberley. What I love about this play is, even if it’s not a play I’m hugely familiar with, I know those characters and I know that setting. Coming to it instantly evokes all those memories. For me, as a director, it’s about nostalgia and comfort, and playing with those things during holiday season is really exciting.
“Christmas is a time for colour, music, togetherness, romance, and that’s what we’re giving you with Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley.”
Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley runs December 9-11 at the Fredericton Playhouse with a performance at Saint John’s Imperial Theatre on December 12.
More about Ryan
An Actor and Director, Ryan has appeared across Canada performing #KanderAndEbb at the Stratford Festival, It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play for Theatre New Brunswick; Queen’s We Will Rock You for Magnus Theatre; Hedwig in Hedwig & the Angry Inch at the Capitol Theatre; Piragua Guy in In The Heights for We Are Here; and Post-Paradise with My Barbarian in New York City, and directing 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee for Vanier College Productions; Cocktails with Maria for Tapestry Opera; and MacArthur Park Suite: A Disco Ballet for Summerworks.
Ryan is also an Associate Artist at lemonTree Creations, where the work has included Lydie-Anne in Lilies; Or, The Revival of a Romantic Drama; the premiere, remount and national tour of dance-theatre hybrid MSM [men seeking men], and the world premiere of Private Eyes. Ryan serves on the national council of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association, and has performed alongside artists such as Liza Minnelli, Todrick Hall, Billy Stritch, Taylor Mac, Debbie Reynolds and more. Ryan is thrilled to return to Fredericton and TNB with thanks, to Natasha Maclellan for her kindness. More at RyanGHinds.com