Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) has announced the full casting and creative team for the highly anticipated world premiere of Sense and Sensibility, a musical adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved novel, with book, music and lyrics by Tony Award-nominated composer Paul Gordon. Directed by artistic director Barbara Gaines, this lush period production traces the lives of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood—two sisters who are as bound by their love for each other as they are conflicted in their divergent natures. Megan McGinnis originates the role of the wildly romantic Marianne, joined by Sharon Rietkerk as the practical and dutiful Elinor. Commissioned by Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Sense and Sensibility crowns the close of CST’s 2014-15 season in the Courtyard Theater.
Expect composer Paul Gordon to bring fresh voice to Austen’s intimate story of love and sisterhood. A multi-talented composer, lyricist and book writer, Gordon has previously been inspired by classic texts to great success; the Broadway musical Jane Eyre, which he co-wrote, was nominated for a whopping five Tony Awards in 2000, including Best Musical and Best Score, and his musical adaptation of Austen’s Emma won the 2007 Bay Area Critics Circle Award. Gordon’s Daddy Long Legs, written with British director John Caird, has enjoyed productions around the world.
About his creative process, Gordon says, “There is a lyricism to the way Jane Austen writes—great melodies within the soul of the piece. The poetic language of the novel makes for a wonderful foundation of a musical and the music triggers your emotions in a profound way.”
Highlighting the Theater’s commitment to new work, Sense and Sensibility caps a season featuring three world premieres for CST, international tours of two original works to eight festivals and nine projects in active development. Creative Producer Rick Boynton oversees the development of a wide spectrum of new work including re-imagined classics (David Ives’ Prince Prize-winning A Flea in Her Ear, The Three Musketeers with music by George Stiles and lyrics by Paul Leigh, three original works with the Q Brothers including Othello: The Remix), collaborations with international artists (Since I Suppose with the Australia’s one step at a time like this, Cadre with South African artist Omphile Molusi) and notable musicals for young audiences.
Director Barbara Gaines leads a talented cast in this world premiere production. In addition to McGinnis (Beth in Little Women) and Rietkerk (a featured concert artist with the South Coast Symphony and Napa Valley Opera House), Wayne Wilcox, best known for his performance as Gordon in the hit film version of Rent, takes on the role of Edward Ferrars, along with Sean Allan Krill (Comedy of Errors, 2008) as Colonel Brandon and Peter Saide (Jersey Boys on Broadway) as Willoughby.
Joining Gaines on the creative team is musical director Laura Bergquist, who will also serve as conductor for the production’s 10-piece orchestra, and Choreographer Harrison McEldowney. Development of the production’s lush set design has been entrusted to Kevin Depinet with period costumes in the hands of veteran designer Susan E. Mickey.
Sense and Sensibility will be performed in CST’s Courtyard Theater April 18–June 7, 2015. For tickets or more information about the production, visit ChicagoShakes.com.
Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts
The Dashwood sisters: Elinor (Sharon Rietkerk) and Marianne (Megan McGinnis) in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s world premiere production of Sense and Sensibility, a musical adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel with book, music and lyrics by Paul Gordon and directed by CST artistic director Barbara Gaines, in the Courtyard Theater April 18–June 7, 2015.