Our annual holiday productions are a very big part of each new season at Theatre New Brunswick. Each of these shows represent something different to everyone involved, from those of us in the TNB offices, all the way through to the patrons who join us when the curtain goes up. For us, our holidays productions are among the most involved of the year. The planning is extensive and begins months in advance. Travel, accommodations, daily rehearsals, programs, posters, tickets… There’s a lot to organize and stay on top of. At times, it’s not uncommon for us to get so caught up in the logistics of it all that we forget what the end result will actually be – a beautiful story brought to life on stage and a show that brings friends, family and our boarder community together to share in a one-of-a-kind theatre experience.
With these shows, as with any large onstage undertaking, there is always a bit of risk involved. Choosing which story to stage is only part of the challenge. And today, in the time of COVID with justifiable worry and concern weighing heavily on every decision we make to leave the house, the risk is that much higher.
So why did we choose to return to the stage with a holiday production few have heard of? The answer is an easy one. It’s a beautiful story. Plain and simple.
“I’m as much a fan of the traditional holiday theatre canon as I am a fan of exploring new experiences on stage,” said TNB Artistic Director Natasha MacLellan. “I was looking for something new to produce for a future holiday production when I heard about Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. We read through the script back in February and all had the same response. ‘What a fun story!’ And what a great opportunity to try something new for the holidays. And so, once we knew we’d be able to do a show in December, this play was an obvious choice.
“TNB is also trying to be more community-minded, in so many different regards,” said MacLellan. “Looking around this province, I see a lot of young actors who are based here, trying to make a living. In addition to being a fun, romantic holiday story, it was also an opportunity to cast local actors. I’m thrilled to have four actors in this cast who are based in New Brunswick!”
As far as holiday theatre goes, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley is fast becoming a new holiday favourite. It was one of the most produced plays in the United States in 2018, and debuted in 2016 with three simultaneous productions! Yet while it may be one of the youngest plays being produced on stages this holiday season, its roots go back to a time before The Grinch wreaked havoc on the good people of Whoville, before George Bailey sacrificed his dreams to help his community, even before old Ebenezer Scrooge himself spent a night time traveling with the help of a few uninvited guests.
Based on the characters from Jane Austen’s timeless novel Pride and Prejudice, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley is an imagined sequel to Austen’s classic. Written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, the play and focuses on Mary, the bookish, often over-looked middle child, and brings together some sharp whited dialogue with onstage comedy and romance, all under the overarching theme of the season. For these reasons alone, we believe this play to be the perfect way for us to reconnect with our audience.
Praise for Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley
“Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley ticks all the boxes for holiday entertainment. It is nostalgic, beautiful, and not too deep. It is a Christmas cookie that crumbles when pressed.”
– Vancouver Presents
“Droll and delicious, MISS BENNET is a charming, confectionary celebration of fan favorite characters from Pride and Prejudice, multi-generationally honoring the legacy of Jane Austen’s humor, playfulness and wit…”
“Inspiration from much-loved source material? Check. Romance? Check. Warm, fuzzy holiday setting? Check. Light and completely inoffensive humour? Check.”
“…a perfectly constructed love story…Given its fizzy comedy, sweet spirit and clean structure, [MISS BENNET] seems destined to populate future holiday seasons…”
—San Francisco Chronicle.
“It’s cozy and romantic, the way we always hope the holidays—and true love—will be.”
– The Georgia Straight
“…an unstuffy, highly entertaining and warm-spirited work, the kind of thing multiple generations can enjoy together.”
Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley runs December 9-11 at the Fredericton Playhouse, and December 12 at the Imperial Theatre in Saint John. Tickets for all performances are on sale now.