Review: Sense & Sensibility World Premiere in Denver

Wow, it was almost a year ago that I was listening to the music clips on the Sense and Sensibility the Musical website and was drawn into the show… Draw into it enough to want to see the production upon its arrival in Denver.

It has been a year and well… I did end up making that trip to Colorado specifically so I could see this production live. Don’t judge me.

First… the quickies:
Acting: LOVE
Vocals: LOVE
Music / Orchestration: LOVE
Set Design: LOVE
Directing: LOVE

I was seriously considering buying another ticket for the matinee production on Sunday but thought better of it.

But where to begin? Well to start the one thing I like is that there isn’t some massive ensemble in addition to the cast, there is a group of five to seven actors/actresses who help move the story along (a la A Little Night Music). Why five to seven? Because not only do they help move the story along, but some of them also play smaller parts in the production when needed:
– Lucy Steele
– Thomas (Dashwoods servant)
– Peter (London servant)
– Miss Grey (Willoughby’s bride)
– John and Fanny Dashwood
And others, but the above are the most “obvious” I would say.

Personally I didn’t notice when each of the above players were in the “ensemble” so to speak until much later in the production… which was a good thing… otherwise I would have to watch the show again just so I could see if I had missed anything.

Since this is my impression / review of the production itself I won’t go into detail about changes from the original novel… that is going to be a post in and of itself. However what I will say is this:

When it comes to the storylines of the Dashwood sisters the stage adaptation is fairly close to the novel (with a few changes here and there). When it comes to where a lot of where particular points of the storyline happens, there are far more changes that a total purist may not be too keen on, but for me being a purist… I find that the changes made were probably the best ones that could have been done.

But again that’s another post for another day.

There were moments when I felt that Marianne Dashwood’s over exuberance is a bit much… almost like Margaret (the youngest sister) as depicted in Ang Lee’s film version of S&S. I mean I understand being over the top in love, romance and passion but I don’t know. However when it comes to stage it does show a strong disparity to elder sister’s more sensible nature.

I won’t go into details or breakdown the cast because everyone was strong across the board… to the point that I really couldn’t see a weak spot and that’s difficult to do. As for how was undoubtedly outstanding? I can’t say, I think that despite the production being about two sisters and their romantic entanglements… this very much felt like an ensemble production where everyone was strong and no one was weak… and in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that how theatre is suppose to be? Though I will admit that whenever there was a scene that included Thomas the Dashwoods servant… he very nearly stole the scene.

Then again throughout the stage production there was quite a bit of comedy going on than I originally had expected. Sure the romance, drama, intrigue were all there… but the comedy that Jane Austen infused so subtly in her writing the creators here chose to bring out full force. The audience was laughing and chortling all along the way.

Anyway the set design was amazing… the scene changes were seamless making full use of the hydraulics throughout the stage. They also decided to use a full stage mural that changes between Norland and London whileas behind that was a hill that was used for various scenes.

One thing I enjoyed is how it would appear (whether this was by chance or directed as so) that during the vocal pieces sung by Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon was quite controlled in the first act… while throughout the second act when they sung again they appeared to be far more free and willing to fly.

However, if I were to chose the scenes that really captured my attention it would be the following:
– Elinor slowly losing her sense and control while Marianne becomes very ill
– Colonel Brandon telling Elinor his past with Eliza Williams and the child that became his ward
– Edward Ferrars, Lucy Steele, Elinor Dashwood and Mrs Jennings seated for tea in London singing “Awkward”
– Marianne Dashwood realizing that Colonel Brandon is slowly bringing life back into her

I could go on, however there are quite a few reviews out there for this particular production and although I did not have the chance to see it again in my very short time in Colorado if this production happens to pop up anywhere else you can bet that I will be there.

So why am I not going into too much detail? Mainly because I am still trying to wrap my head around the production… it was that good that it has rendered me unable to truly articulate what I must…

As thus do not be surprised should I happen to revisit this production in some future post (or two or three)

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