Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley
The Adobe Theater
Review by Carole C. Sullivan

Also see Carole's review of The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley

Valerie Lawdensky, Sarah Kesselring, Lauren Jehle,
and Jessica Alden

Photo by Rhonda Sigler-Ware
Albuquerque sister theatre companies, The Adobe Theater and The Vortex Theatre, are presenting two shows based on the writings of Jane Austen: Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley at the Adobe and The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley at the Vortex. Both plays are written by the same authors, Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon. The plays are helmed by different directors, Robin Havens-Parker at the Adobe and Leslee Richards at the Vortex. The casts are different, but there are several overlapping characters. Together the plays offer a complete picture of what is going on in the drawing room (upstairs, Miss Bennet) and the kitchen (downstairs, The Wickhams) during the same time period.

Miss Bennet is a new story of middle sister Mary, who has always been overlooked but who finally is able to express her true self and find a partner who completely appreciates her. Sarah Kesselring as Mary and Cash Martinez as Arthur De Bourgh bring authentic quirkiness and innocence to these characters as they fall in love. Jessica Alden as Elizabeth Darcy and Tanner Sroufe as Fitzwilliam Darcy anchor the action nicely. Outstanding support is provided by the rest of the cast.

The set and costumes for this production deserve special kudos. Although the drawing room seems stuffed with furniture, the director uses each area well, and movement throughout is facilitated. The costumes are in-period and fit nicely on all the players. Special mention should be made of the women's period hairstyles; they are well executed and perfect for each lady.

Mary's piano playing is integral to her character and to the action of the play. It is fortunate that Sarah Kesselring is able to play the piano on stage for all of the important scenes. This greatly enhances the verisimilitude of the production.

There are few pauses in the action of the play. The director has preserved forward momentum by choreographing the transitions in keeping with the style of the performance. Set decorations between the two acts are facilitated by the actors as they decorate the drawing room for Christmas Eve during the intermission in full view of the audience. Tableau-like transitions are also employed to keep the action fluid. This results in keeping the audience focused throughout. The play seemed to fly by. Jane Austen fans will find a great deal to love here.

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley runs through December 24, 2023, at The Adobe Theater, 9813 4th Street NW, Albuquerque NM. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm. General Admission, $24 Discounted Admission $20. For tickets and information, please visit or call 505-898-9222.

Directed by Robin Havens-Parker, Set Design by Linda Wilson, Costume Design by Rhonda Backinoff. Cast: Jessica Alden, Isaac Dean Carrillo, Claire Gardner, Lauren Jehle, Sarah Kesselring, Valerie Lawdensky, Cash Martinez, Kristine Padilla, Tanner Sroufe.