By Drew Luther
Theatre Roanoke College performed an adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility” in Olin Theater at Roanoke College Nov. 19-22. The cast consisted of 17 people, most of which were students. The play was directed by Lisa C. Warren, and numerous other students participated as part of the set, lighting, costume, and sound crews.
“Sense and Sensibility” starts with the Dashwood family losing its patriarch and much of its wealth. The rest of the play follows the family and how it deals with the change. There is a particular focus on the two elder daughters, Elinor and Marianne, played by Allison Smith and Abby Gray, and their experiences in romance and marriage.
For 9 members of the cast, “Sense and Sensibility” was their first production with Theatre Roanoke College. This included several of the main characters, including Elinor and Marianne along with John Willoughby, Margaret Dashwood, and Mrs. Dashwood, played by Johnny Bounds, Katie Soper, and Katie Madigan respectively.
Auditions for the play were held in September, and rehearsals started soon after. Rehearsals began as two-hour long practices several times a week, but as it got closer to the performance dates, they became longer, with the last several being 4 to 5 hours long.
The costumes were well put together, and the lighting was well-executed. The few scenes that involved music were good, except for the scene where Anne Steele, played by Hannah Shipp, sang badly, but that was purposeful!
Transitions between scenes and locations could have been better. In the beginning of the play, they repositioned a door and large bay window depending on what house the scene was taking place in, but partway through they stopped moving those at all and just moved the furniture around. In addition, it was difficult to tell when a scene was outside because the walls and sometimes the furniture were left in place; the sound of rain falling was the only indicator of it being outside.
The actors and actresses were very good at creating tension, even if every action and expression was a little over exaggerated. Also, the cast was remarkably good at staying still for prolonged amounts of time, something they had to do a lot over the course of the performance.
It finished with an impressive synchronized dance of the whole crew, leading into the curtain call.
Funding for the play was provided in part by the friends of David “Kam” Coyner ’94 to honor his memory and his contributions to their lives and the Theatre Roanoke College.