This past weekend, the ETSU Department of Theatre and Dance performed “Sense and Sensibility,” the final play of their season. This production was adapted by actress Kate Hamill from Jane Austen’s classic novel by the same name. However, as Director Herb Parker mentions, the play was delightfully more lively and unconventional than audiences may have expected.
“It was really cool!” adds theater fan Kaley Rosenbaum. “I really like the love story. I just think it was so interesting how it works out!”
The story line stays true to Jane Austen’s vision: The Dashwood sisters, Marianne and Elinor, along with their mother and younger sister, find themselves relocated to a small cottage with no money when the father of the family passes away suddenly and leaves his entire fortune to his dimwitted son from a previous marriage and his diabolical wife, Fanny.
The Dashwoods become acquainted with their new neighbors who quickly decide the answer to the problems the girls face is simply that Marianne and Elinor must get married. Marianne, the sensibility-ruled sister, first catches the eye of the older bachelor Colonel Brandon, but she falls hard and fast for the young, mysterious John Willoughby. Elinor, the sister of sense, quietly admires a young Edward Ferrars.
From here, the romantic endeavors of the sisters take many unprecedented twists and turns, pulling the audience through the joy and despair of finding love where you least expect it.
One much appreciated difference seen on stage was the addition of the actor’s ensemble. This was a group of unnamed characters gossiping between scenes wearing eye-catching costumes and perpetuating comedy wherever they go. Another attention-grabbing change was the use of modern music in between period pieces which brought on many laughs from the audience.
The actors were faced with many challenges in this production, from quick costume changes to playing a multitude of characters. The story flowed wonderfully regardless. Taylor Hutchinson and Abigail Brown emulated the emotions of the two sisters beautifully, from their facial expressions to the power in their words.
Actor Hunter Thomas played the well-aged and somewhat solemn Colonel Brandon as well as a ridiculous member of the ensemble.
“It’s really rewarding,” says Thomas on his experience with the play. “Especially working with such a talented cast, such a hardworking crew, and for audiences that really enjoy it so much.”
And enjoy it they did. Students, faculty, and the public in attendance left the theater with a newfound appreciation for Jane Austen’s classic tale of gossip and love.
“It was definitely different!” said ETSU student Maleah Miller. “It was so funny. I like the way that they took an old piece and made it so modern. They gave it a new personality.”