SENSE AND SENSITIVITY at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley

Sense and sensitivity

Book, music and lyrics by Paul Gordon

Based on the novel by Jane Austen

Directed by Robert Kelley

Silicon Valley Works Theater

So nice to be able to write Directed by Robert Kelley. The TheatreWorks founder retired in 2020 after receiving a well-deserved 2019 regional Tony Award and given his long history with Paul Gordon, he is back to helm this lavish and meticulously crafted production. No stranger to TheatreWorks, Gordon received a Tony nomination for the Broadway musical of Jane Eyrethen moved on to the world premiere of Pride and Prejudice at TheatreWorks in 2019 and Austen’s EMMA.

Sense and sensitivity is a romantic Regency period tale of two sisters, the eldest Elinor (meaning) and her impulsive sister Marianne (sensitivity) as they maneuver in the patriarchal world of financial control and cultural restrictions. The plots with their trials and tribulations predate modern soap operas and although they seem tame by contemporary standards, Austen was one of the pioneers of feminist thought. While the women who inhabit this era are essentially chattels to their men, free thought and sexual awareness are developed.

BWW Review: SENSE AND SENSITIVITY at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley
LR – Fanny (Melissa WolfKlain) and Elinor Dashwood (Sharon Rietkerk) receive a visit to Norland from Edward Ferrars (Darrell Morris Jr.), in the role of John Dashwood (Nick Nakashima – return)

Gordon’s beautiful score moves the story forward seamlessly and includes the wonderful “Rain” and “Wrong Side of 5 and 30”. Under the musical direction of William Liberatore, the orchestrations support the excellent cast. Technically, this production is everything we’ve come to expect from TheatreWorks – incredible costumes by Fumiko Beilefeldt, lighting by Steven B. Mannshardt, stage design by Joe Ragey and sound by Jeff Mockus.

BWW Review: SENSE AND SENSITIVITY at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley
The happy couples (left to right: Noel Anthony, Antoinette Comer, Sharon Rietkerk and Darrell Morris Jr.)

Amid filigree watermarks and projection cameos, the Dashwood sisters, Antoinette Comer as Marianne and Sharon Rietkerk as Elinor meet new loves: the unscrupulous Willoughby (Hunter Ryan Herdlicka), the sensitive Colonel Brandon (Noel Anthony) and the confused Edward Ferrars (Darrell Morris Jr.). Excellent supporting roles (Mellissa WolfKlain, Nick Nakashima, Lucinda Hitchcock Cone, Colin Thompson, Sonya Balsara. Michelle Skinner and Jamie Gussman) complete this excellent cast.

BWW Review: SENSE AND SENSITIVITY at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley
A friendly picnic scene

Sense and sensitivity is a product of its time in its morality and clear gender delineations. There are rich and poor, privileged and destitute, intelligent and uneducated. Overall, it’s a sweet story of two sisters coming of age that’s universal and stands the test of time.

Sense and sensitivity until April 3, 2022. Tickets available on TheatreWorks.org or by calling 877-662-8978.

Photo credit: Kevin Berne

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