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Mr. Darcy and Lydia Bennet (Sam Balzac and Liza Amirault) in the Book & Blanket Players Youth Theatre production of <i>Pride and Prejudice: The Musical</i> in Keene Valley this weekend.  Photo: Book & Blanket Players.
Mr. Darcy and Lydia Bennet (Sam Balzac and Liza Amirault) in the Book & Blanket Players Youth Theatre production of Pride and Prejudice: The Musical in Keene Valley this weekend. Photo: Book & Blanket Players.

Preview: "Pride and Prejudice: The Musical" in Keene Valley

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This year marks the bicentennial of the publication of Jane Austen's classic novel Pride and Prejudice, and a summer youth theater group in the Adirondacks will present an original musical adaptation of the story this weekend.

The production, presented by the Book and Blanket Players Youth Theatre, will be performed Saturday at 7 pm and Sunday at 3 pm at Keene Central School in Keene Valley.

Todd Moe talks with director Kathy Recchia and some of the young cast about putting the show together during one intense week of learning lines, songs, and English Country dances.

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This weekend's performances in Keene Valley will be a world premiere. The musical was created by Kathy Recchia and her son Sam Balzac. Recchia wrote the adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel for a summer youth music theatre program in Keene Valley. She spent six years working on the adaptation. The show’s opening falls on the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s novel.

Rosie Kilby and Brian DeWalt as Miss Bingley and Mr. Denny.  Photo: Book & Blanket Players.
Rosie Kilby and Brian DeWalt as Miss Bingley and Mr. Denny. Photo: Book & Blanket Players.
The cast of 27 students is very young, aged from 8-18. They have had five-and-a-half days to put the entire show together. Mr. Bennett is played by Harvey Runyon. Recchia did not dilute the original language. On day two, she says that the language was not really a problem. She says that she treats the children like adults, and they have really stepped up to help pull the show together. Many of the students have not yet read the book, but have seen movie versions. Many of the actors preferred the A&E film to the popular Keira Knightly version.

Rechia’s son, composer and assistant director Sam Balzak will also portray Mr. Darcy in the musical. He says that he is excited to have something he’s written be practiced and performed by talented musicians.

Most of the student actors in the show are from the North Country, but there are some seasonal visitors to the region from the Catskills, Massachusetts and Long Island in the show as well. The play is sponsored by East Branch Friends of the Arts. The production was listed on the Jane Austen Museum calendar in Britain as well as a Syracuse-based Jane Austen blog.  

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