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Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) will celebrate the holidays with the imaginative The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley, a new companion piece to last season’s Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley – both based on the characters from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, according to Executive Director Bonnie J. Butkas and Interim Artistic Director Terry Berliner.
The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley, written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon and directed by Shana Gozansky, will delight families from Nov. 26 to Dec. 22 at the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre at Liberty Hall. For tickets, contact the Box Office at 978-654-4678 or visit MRT.ORG.
“Christmas has arrived at Pemberley and the preparations downstairs reflect the abundance upstairs,” Berliner said. A large fir tree, 20 hens, 20 quail, 50 pounds of ham, apples, raisins, and more sugar than you can carry. I can’t wait to celebrate the holidays with my favorite family!”
Last season’s Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, described as “beguiling, loaded with wit and heart” by The Boston Globe, became the bestselling show in MRT’s 40-year history. This year three of the same characters return to the stage with an entirely new holiday tale. As the events of Miss Bennet unfold upstairs at Pemberley, the servants below find themselves in the midst of a scandal; an unwelcome visitor has stumbled into the kitchen in the middle of the night – Mr. Darcy’s nemesis and Lydia’s incorrigible husband: Mr. Wickham. “Impossible to resist! Epistolary complications, empire-waist dresses, scheming female relatives, and romance – both sparked and thwarted by pride,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
At the end of Pride and Prejudice, heroine Lizzie invites her sisters to spend the holidays at her new home, Pemberley. Gunderson (I and You, Silent Sky at MRT) and Melcon used that invitation as a springboard to create the sequels – “something that has a holiday uplift, something that families can share,” said the playwrights.
Director Gozansky, whose production of The Book Club Play by Karen Zacharias is currently playing to rave reviews at Boston Playwrights Theatre, directs. Gozansky has recently directed at Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Gloucester Stage Company, and Trinity Repertory Theatre.
The cast includes Alexis Bronkovic (Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley at MRT) as Elizabeth Darcy; Philana Mia Gnatowksi (The Pain and The Itch at Company One Theatre) as Cassie; Katie Grindeland (Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley at MRT) as Lydia Wickham; Ed Hooperman (Macbeth at Actors’ Shakespeare Project) as George Wickham; Laura Latreille (The Wolves at Lyric Stage Company) as Mrs. Reynolds; Paul Melendy (The 39 Steps at Gloucester Stage Company) as Brian; Lewis D. Wheeler (Pass Over at SpeakEasy Stage Company) as Fitzwilliam Darcy.
In addition to Gozansky, the creative team includes Apollo Mark Weaver (Slow Food at MRT) as Scenic Designer; Miranda Giruleo (Native Gardens at MRT) as Costume Designer; Brian J. Lilienthal (Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley at MRT); and David Remedios (Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley at MRT) as Sound Designer. Maegan Conroy serves as Production Stage Manager.
Circle Health serves as the 2019-20 Season Sponsor. For Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, the media sponsors are WBUR/Boston’s Public Radio, Merrimack Valley Magazine, and WCAP Radio.
Single tickets range in price from $24 to $66. Season subscriptions for six plays start at $127, with student subscriptions at $60. Four-show packages start at $87. To purchase, visit www.mrt.org or contact the MRT Box Office at 978-654-4678.
MERRIMACK REPERTORY THEATRE www.mrt.org
Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) celebrates 41 years this season as the Merrimack Valley’s professional theatre. With a steadfast commitment to new plays, MRT annually produces seven works, including several premieres.
Under the leadership of Executive Director Bonnie J. Butkas and Interim Artistic Director Terry Berliner, MRT strives to fulfill its mission to “create remarkable new and contemporary plays that bring joy to our art form while engaging, entertaining and enriching our community.” The non-profit company guarantees that shows are accessible to audiences of all incomes; partners with businesses and other non-profits to fully engage the community; and contributes to the economic vitality of Lowell by attracting diverse audiences from throughout the region.
Recent acclaimed productions include Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, the bestselling production in MRT history (directed by former Artistic Director Sean Daniels); Daniels’ own autobiographical play, The White Chip, which opens in New York in October; I and You (Off-Broadway transfer) and Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson, the most produced playwright in America; Women in Jeopardy! and the world premiere of Slow Food by Wendy MacLeod (both directed by Daniels); KNYUM by Cambodian playwright and actor Vichet Chum; and The Lion, singer-songwriter Benjamin Scheuer’s award-winning musical memoir (also directed by Daniels), which launched its national tour from MRT in August 2015, following critically acclaimed runs in New York and London.