A classic story that its stage manager says is adapted to display a "contemporary heartbeat," the SUNY Oswego theater department's "Pride & Prejudice" will open at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 21, in Waterman Theatre.

The production, based on Jon Jory's adaptation of the 19th century Jane Austen novel, will run at 7:30 p.m. April 22 and 29, with a finale at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 30. The show will preview at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 20.

The show focuses on Elizabeth Bennet (junior theater major Alex Matsu) and her role as a woman in 19th century England who is determined not to play by rigid social rules. Stage manager Emily Stott says the show, with some key contemporary touches, is an "empowering play for women."

"To incorporate a contemporary heartbeat allows us to revitalize the show," said Emily Stott, a senior dual major in theater and cinema and screen studies. "It provides a relatability to the audience, a modern feel. Our goal is to maintain the world of the play -- to provide a heartbeat that makes the audience want to dance."

Stott says that to provide this contemporary twist, the show's crew has added some relatively minor but eye- and ear-catching details while keeping the integrity of Austen's and Jory's work. These provide more life and color to a show that is set about 200 years ago, she said.

Lead actor Mr. Darcy (Sean Ryan) wears a high-class suit that has leather accents. Younger characters are allowed to be more daring than 19th century fashions by wearing brighter colors, though older characters, like Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, are more conservative and adhere more to the dress of the time period. Actors sometimes use more modern expressions.

To make all of these contemporary elements come to life, Stott helps oversee one of the largest crews -- more than 25 members -- she has worked with in her time at SUNY Oswego.

'Artistic integrity'

The production crew consists of director, stage manager, assistant stage manager, and managers for lights, props, costumes, wardrobe and make-up, plus many others. Faculty and staff mentors take part, including director Mya Brown.

As stage manager, Stott is responsible for meeting with the crew to delegate responsibilities to support the world of the play. A typical week for her is equivalent to a full-time job; she spends from six to eight hours a day working on the show.

As the premiere nears, Stott's workload increases. Crew members have a watch schedule where they will "watch the show to see how it moves," she said. This helps them make the cue sheets and know when they are needed between scenes.

To have a successful play, Stott said, everyone in the production relies on mutual trust and cooperation on set. The actors and crew work together to "uphold the artistic integrity of the show."

"It's important to have time (together) outside the rehearsal," Stott said. "You can't have a good show without trust and connection. Acting is portraying a real representation of life."

The student crew includes Valerie Blaha, Nicole Caroselli, Evan Carrobis, Nova Casillo, Asha Charles, Bintou Cisse, Gabrielle Clement, Alesha Frasier, Katherine Gaurnier, Shelby Gilbert, Megan Hickey, Leah Iannone, Samantha Keeney, Henry Liebentritt, Maria-Ray Ossino, Sara Pellegrino, Christian Pokorny, Stephen Quigley, Ryan Smith, Daniel Tazbin, Robert Thomas, Megan Twamley, Caitlin Weinell and Gregory West. 

The faculty crew is made up of Ola Kraszpulska (scenic design), Greg Brewster (lighting design), Kitty Macey (costume design), and T.J. Bandla (sound design).

Tickets for "Pride & Prejudice" are $15 ($7 for SUNY Oswego students with ID), available at all SUNY Oswego box offices, online at tickets.oswego.edu or by calling 315-312-2141. All tickets to the April 20 preview performance are $5.

Parking is included in the price of a ticket, and is available in the employee lot in front of Culkin Hall and the employee and commuter lots behind Hart and Funnelle residence halls. Those attending that are in need of assistance should contact the box office prior to the performance.