Past Reviews

Off Broadway Reviews

Prejudice and Pride

Theatre Review by Howard Miller - July 20, 2023

PT Mahoney, Tim Ahlenius, and Christian Thomas Owen
Photo by Brian Paulette
59E59 Theaters is having a bit of a Jane Austen season this summer. A few weeks ago, it played host to the solo show Being Mr. Wickham about a ne'er-do-well character from "Pride and Prejudice." And now there is Prejudice and Pride, a heartfelt gender-and-title-swapped modern day country/folk musical adaptation of Austen's 1813 novel about the possibility of love and marriage across social classes.

Set in rural Tennessee, Prejudice and Pride, with music and lyrics by Sam Wright and a book by Wright and the show's director Nicholas Collett, introduces us to the Longborn family, facing the loss of their farm. The solution posed by Papa Longborn (Tim Ahlenius) in the opening song, "Pretty Little Goldmine," is for his three sons, Bennett (Sam Wright), Jake (PT Mahoney), and Lyle (Chris Owen), to go out and find rich wives.

In its own fashion, the storyline unfolds along the lines of Austen's novel. If you are familiar with that, or with one of its gazillion movie, television, or theatrical adaptations, you'll easily figure out the whos and the whats of the show, which began life at Kansas City's Musical Theater Heritage and went on to a production at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival before arriving in New York.

Truth be told, I wouldn't concern myself too much with the awkward plot twists and sometimes clunky dialog. We know that Bennett and the wealthy Darcy Fitzwilliams (Bridget Casad) will fumble their way toward each other; that Jake and Carly Bing (Stefanie Stevens) will be completely smitten from the get-go; and that Lyle (not the brightest bulb in the pack) will get entangled with Victoria "Wick" Hamm (also played by Stefanie Stevens). All of the nonsense, including jokes that might have been rejects from a very early draft of Shucked, really don't amount to a hill of beans.

Very simply, it is the music (country, bluegrass, folk) that makes a visit to Prejudice and Pride worthwhile. Sam Wright is truly in his element when he picks up his banjo and performs alone or with his bandmates Chris Hudson (guitar) and Mark Hamblin (bass), or when he is joined in song with the other cast members, several of whom play multiple roles. The 15 songs that make up the score range from toe-tapping to heartfelt, especially when performed by the sad-eyed Mr. Wright. There are also some quite clever moments, such as when the formal balls that are part of Austen's world are transformed into country-western dances, choreographed by the very busy Ms. Stevens. Taken for what it is, a lot of tuneful music held together with a shambly plot and a ton of heart, and you will find there is a lot to like about Prejudice and Pride.

Prejudice and Pride
Through August 20, 2023
SamWrites & Nicholas Collett Productions
59E59 Theaters, 59 E. 59th St., New York
Tickets online and current performance schedule: