Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley
Your Jane Austen Regency romcom.
November 30 – December 29, 2019
Delicious as a mug of frothy eggnog, meet your new favorite holiday classic!
Middle sister Mary finally takes center stage in this charming and clever sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. While happy in the company of books and her piano, Mary has grown tired of her role as the dutiful daughter. When the Bennet sisters gather at the home of Lizzy and Darcy for the holidays, an unexpected guest sparks Mary’s hopes for independence, an intellectual match, and perhaps even love. Blending modern wit and period style, this enchanting romantic comedy promises to delight Austen aficionados and newcomers alike.
“Highly entertaining and warm-spirited.”
- Chicago Tribune
Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley Plot Synopsis
Please note, this synopsis contains spoilers.
This play imagines what the witty and vibrant Bennet sisters’ world might be like two years after the end of Pride and Prejudice.
It’s December 22, 1815. Mrs. Elizabeth “Lizzy” Darcy (née Bennet) and her husband, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, are preparing to host a family Christmas gathering. Fans of Jane Austen will remember Lizzy and Darcy from their delightfully contentious courtship in Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. That book follows the five Bennet sisters as they navigate the joys and challenges of young women tasked with entering English society and finding a husband.
At the beginning of the play, Lizzy and Darcy are happily married and living at their Pemberley Estate. Eldest sister Jane is still married to her beau from Pride and Prejudice, Charles Bingley, and they are more in love than ever and expecting their first child. Lydia, the youngest, was the most sociable and flirtatious of the Bennet sisters. She defied social norms and ran off with a militia officer named George Wickham, leaving Mr. Darcy no choice but to bribe Wickham into marrying Lydia to save her reputation, effectively deflating the romance of it all. Now, Lydia exerts much energy convincing her sisters that her marriage is a happy one. Kitty, the second youngest sister, is unable to attend the Christmas festivities and does not appear in the play. And then there’s Mary Bennet. Smart but solitary Mary Bennet. The observant but overlooked middle child. The girl everyone sees as boring, spinster-ish, even cynical … and perhaps she is. Or was. Because this Christmas, Mary is coming into her own as a woman, and fate is lying in wait to stoke the fires of her heart …
As Lizzy finishes decorating the house, she and Mr. Darcy jokingly contemplate the ethics of a “new-fangled” English trend imported from an age-old German tradition of cutting down evergreen trees and ornamenting them inside the home for Yule. They also discuss news of the recent death of Darcy’s aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who had intended that her daughter, Anne, marry Darcy. But then he met Lizzy Bennet and the rest is history. There is further news that while Anne will inherit sufficient monies to ensure she is financially stable, she will not inherit Lady Catherine’s home and estate. The property and all its trappings — including a title of nobility — has been passed to Anne’s cousin, a Mr. Arthur de Bourgh (now Lord de Bourgh), who has had little contact with the family and spends most of his time reading and studying at Oxford. He is a true intellectual, more interested in books than parties, and in modern parlance, we might go so far as to call him, “like, a total geek.” Darcy surprises Lizzy with the news that Arthur will be joining them for Christmas at Pemberley. Unsurprisingly, Lizzy takes an intrigued view of the addition to her table and adopts a “more the merrier” attitude.
Then the gang bursts onto the scene: Jane and her husband Bingley, in a flourish of packages and kisses, followed by Mary, who is already distancing herself from her sisters’ all-too-sociable displays of affection. Lydia was supposed to arrive with her sisters, but has delayed her journey by a day; her husband Wickham is not welcome in Darcy’s home due to old wounds, so he will take a private holiday elsewhere. The sisters discuss Lydia’s letters professing her and Wickham’s passionate love and agree that they are just posturing. Mary pointedly states that it's obvious that “Wickham is her husband in title only and not in heart. The chat turns to Mary’s romantic prospects, and she replies that she is content to become an old maid, since that is how the world sees her anyway. But her sisters can’t accept that and decide to shake Mary out of her skeptical shell and help her find a mate. Mary commiserates with her brother-in-law about her sense of herself as a social misfit and the ways her sisters don’t really understand her.
Then, Lord Arthur arrives. His first interaction is with Mary, and despite some awkwardness, there seems to be an immediate connection between them. But just as they edge toward the line of actual flirtation, boisterous Lydia shows up and effortlessly turns all attention toward herself. The whole clan gathers to welcome Arthur and Lydia, and it is soon apparent to everyone except Mary and Arthur that Mary and Arthur would make an excellent couple. Jane, Lizzy, and their husbands start to sweetly conspire to bring them together. What they don’t understand, at least at first, is that Mary and Arthur are quite capable of managing their own courtship, even if it is rocky and nerdy by other women’s standards.
Unfortunately, Lydia is secretly hurting badly from her own failed marriage, and decides she also wants to pursue Arthur romantically, even if only to have a lark. Through a marvelously farcical sequence involving a handful of miss-delivered letters, Mary and Lydia and Arthur end up in a confusing triangle of flirtation. Just as they get it sorted out, and Mary and Arthur are about to take the risk of admitting they have feelings for each other, Anne de Bourgh shows up with the shocking news that she and Arthur are engaged to be married. Everyone, including Arthur, is caught off guard by this revelation, and all the hopes for a potential partnership between Mary and Arthur are dashed.
It is Christmas Eve morning. Arthur tries to win Mary back, but she has steeled herself against him. Unsure of how to proceed, he consults Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley, who encourage him to be his own man and pursue the woman he loves. Arthur is at a loss; he’s never dated or been in love before, and he believes his status as an academic loner has left him ill-equipped to handle matters of the heart. It looks like he’s going to give up. So Darcy and Bingley pledge to intervene secretly on his and Mary’s behalf. Meanwhile, the sisters try to reconcile after Lydia’s divisive performance, but it just leaves Mary more and more vulnerable. Darcy and Bingley recruit Jane, Lizzy, and Lydia to their matchmaking cause, and the group has to convince Arthur not to leave Pemberley. Anne de Bourgh, for her part, treats the family with disdain in her attempt to dominate Arthur.
The situation reaches its boiling point, and much to everyone’s surprise, Arthur and Mary do the difficult, beautiful work of opening themselves up to each other on their own. Their love gives Arthur the strength to refuse Anne’s bidding and the arranged marriage. Anne starts to leave in a huff, opening a path for Mary and Arthur to build a life together, but is stunned when Arthur generously appoints her ward and guardian of her late mother’s estate. Anne is still lonely, but the Bennet clan helps her realize that she is now a free woman, unbound by any arranged marriages or her mother’s rules of courtship. She leaves Pemberley with a renewed sense of her own agency in finding true love. Arthur and Mary commit to their engagement, and all enmity between the sisters is exorcized. In the final moment, Mary Bennet — boring, spinster-ish, brilliant, awkward, perceptive, middle child Mary Bennet — looks out upon the world and her future and smiles, for now she sees only pure, joyous potential. It looks to be a very merry Christmas at Pemberley indeed.
Calling all readers! Multnomah County Library put together a reading list inspired by our production of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. From the romances of England's great Victorian novelists to confessions of a Jane Austen addict, there's lots of great options to deepen your connection to the play.
Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley
By Lauren Gunderson & Margot Melcon
Directed by Marissa Wolf
|Quinlan Fitzgerald||Anne de Bourgh|
|Charles Grant||Charles Bingley|
|Cindy Im*||Elizabeth Darcy|
|Isaac Lamb*||Fitzwilliam Darcy|
|Treasure Lunan||Jane Bingley|
|Lauren Modica*||Mary Bennet|
|Kailey Rhodes||Lydia Wickham|
|Josh Weinstein*||Arthur de Bourgh|
*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
|Peter Ksander||Scenic Designer|
|Alex Wren Meadows||Costume Designer|
|Jennifer Lin||Lighting Designer|
|Phil Johnson||Sound Designer|
|Jessica Miller||Wig Designer|
|Karl Hanover||Dialect Coach|
|Andrew Bray||Music Consultant & Assistant Sound Designer|
|Mark Tynan*||Stage Manager|
|Macarena Subiabre||Production Assistant|
*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
Meet the Cast
Quinlan is thrilled to be returning to Portland Center Stage at The Armory, where she was last seen in Bedlam’s Sense and Sensibility. Local credits include The Wolves, A Christmas Carol, Peter and the Starcatcher, and You for Me for You (Portland Playhouse); The Humans (Artists Repertory Theatre); Ordinary Days and Trails (Broadway Rose Theatre Company); The Angry Brigade (Third Rail Repertory Theatre); Love’s Labour’s Lost (Portland Actors Ensemble). Other credits include Spring Awakening (Out of the Box Theatre Company); Godspell and Audience (Knightsbridge Theatre Company). TV: Shrill, The Birch. She is a past Portland Playhouse apprentice and holds a B.F.A. in acting and a B.A. in communication from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Thank you for sharing this story with us!
Charles is excited and honored to be a part of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley! Perhaps you just saw him right here at Portland Center Stage at The Armory in Redwood. Other local credits include: Bootycandy (Fuse Theatre Ensemble), Jump (Confrontation Theatre/Milagro Theatre), Mamma Mia! (Broadway Rose Theatre Company), and A Year with Frog and Toad (Oregon Children’s Theatre), for which he received a Drammy Award for his performance. B.F.A. in acting from University of California, Santa Barbara (Go Gauchos!). This holiday season, Charles is grateful for his community (the greatest gift of all!), without whom none of this would be possible. Representation matters, and Jane Austen belongs to everyone. He hopes you enjoy the show! thecharlesgrant.com
This is Cindy’s Portland debut. She is excited to return to Pemberley, having played Lizzy in the world premiere production of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley at Marin Theatre Company. Other credits include The Great Wave (Berkeley Repertory Theatre); Vietgone, The Orphan of Zhao, Stuck Elevator (American Conservatory Theater); Hannah and the Dread Gazebo, Julius Caesar, Great Expectations, The Winter’s Tale (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); The World of Extreme Happiness (Manhattan Theatre Club and Goodman Theatre); The Orphan of Zhao (La Jolla Playhouse); Twelfth Night (California Shakespeare Theater); Measure for Measure (Seattle Shakespeare Company); and 11 Septembre 2001 (Théâtre Dijon Bourgogne/REDCAT). Film/TV credits include Manifest (NBC) and Tigertail (Netflix). Cindy is a TCG Fox Acting Fellow and holds an M.F.A. in acting from California Institute of the Arts.
Isaac is thrilled to be back at Portland Center Stage at The Armory after spending last Christmas as Scrooge in Twist Your Dickens. Isaac is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University and a company member of Third Rail Repertory Theatre. Select local credits: The Flick, The Aliens, The Mystery of Irma Vep (Third Rail Repertory Theatre); Every Brilliant Thing, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (The Armory); Assassins, The Playboy of the Western World (Artists Repertory Theatre); The Sound of Music, The Addams Family (Broadway Rose Theatre Company); Mr. Burns …, Peter and the Starcatcher (Portland Playhouse); The Three Sisters (Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble). National tour: Defending the Caveman. Select regional: Barbara Streisand’s “Timeless” Tour (STAPLES Center), Sweet Charity (Red Mountain Theatre Company). Film: Lean on Pete (Film4), North Starr (Sundance). TV: American Vandal, Portlandia, The Birch. isaaclamb.com
Treasure is ecstatic to be making their Portland Center Stage at The Armory debut as Jane Bingley in Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. A lifelong thespian and self-proclaimed theater geek, Treasure's most recent credits include playing Cel in The Most Massive Woman Wins at Deep End Theater and Renee in The Lunchroom for Hear Our Voices: A Staged Reading presented by Advance Gender Equity in the Arts at The Armory. They are further delighted to be returning to The Armory stage later this season in School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play, as well as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. They are incredibly grateful for this opportunity and extend an enthusiastic thank you to the audience for supporting the arts.
Lauren is thrilled to be back at Portland Center Stage at The Armory for her holidays, with Marissa and the entire cast and crew. Love and gratitude to those who make her heart sing. Regional: Mrs. Jennings in Bedlam’s Sense and Sensibility, Mrs. Cratchit/Rag Doll/Insane Beggar Woman in Twist Your Dickens, Our Town, and JAW: A Playwright’s Festival (The Armory); Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, Widow in All’s Well that Ends Well, Anne Steele/Lady Middleton in Sense and Sensibility, Gregory in Romeo and Juliet, and Glendower/Mowbray/Peto in Henry IV: Part One and Two (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Cook/Nurse Spiller in Fingersmith (American Repertory Theater); and Fortune Teller in The Skin of Our Teeth (Artists Repertory Theatre). Portland: Profile Theatre, Defunkt Theatre, Northwest Classical Theatre Collaborative, Willamette Shakespeare, Action/Adventure Theatre, Gretchen Icenogle's Trailing Colors, and others. Next up: Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. For Grandpa B. @laurenmodica
Kailey is excited to make her Portland Center Stage at The Armory debut! She’s grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with this cast. She was last on this stage with Anonymous Theatre Company’s 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Urinetown. Other credits include The Wolves (Portland Playhouse); Ordinary Days, Into the Woods, Gypsy (Broadway Rose Theatre Company); Sense and Sensibility (Clackamas Repertory Theatre); The Importance of Being Earnest, An Octoroon, Teenage Dick, and the forthcoming play Looking for Tiger Lily (Artists Repertory Theatre). Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the Georgians on my mind.
Josh is thrilled to return to Portland Center Stage at The Armory after last appearing in Major Barbara as Stephen Undershaft and Snobby Price. Josh is a resident artist at Artists Repertory Theatre and an alumnus of the Portland Playhouse Acting Apprenticeship. Portland credits: The Baltimore Waltz (Profile Theatre), Beirut (Shoebox Theatre), Magellanica (Artists Repertory Theatre), Tender Napalm (Shoebox Theatre), A Christmas Carol (Portland Playhouse), We Are Proud to Present ..., The Miracle Worker, 4000 Miles, TRIBES, and Foxfinder (Artists Repertory Theatre). Huge thanks to the creative and production teams as well as the incredible cast for making this holiday treat a reality. And to Brandy. Always.
Meet the Creative Team
Lauren Gunderson, Playwright
Lauren Gunderson is the most produced living playwright in America, the winner of the Lanford Wilson Award and the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award, a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and John Gassner Award, and a recipient of the Mellon Foundation’s three-year residency with Marin Theatre Company. She studied at Emory University and NYU Tisch School of the Arts, where she was a Reynolds Fellow. Her work has been commissioned, produced, and developed at companies across the United States, including DCPA Theatre Company (The Book of Will), South Coast Repertory (Emilie, Silent Sky), The Kennedy Center (The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful and Her Dog!), Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Shotgun Players, TheatreWorks, Crowded Fire Theater, San Francisco Playhouse, and more. Her work is published by Dramatists Play Service (Silent Sky, Bauer), Playscripts (I and You, Exit, Pursued by a Bear, and Toil and Trouble), and Samuel French (Emilie). laurengunderson.com @lalatellsastory
Margot Melcon, Playwright Margot Melcon is a theater artist, administrator, and writer. She was the director of new play development at Marin Theatre Company for seven years, where she dramaturged more than 30 productions — including six world premieres — and administered the company’s two annual new play prizes and commissioning programs. She has developed plays with TheatreWorks, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Crowded Fire Theater, Shotgun Players, Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Ground Floor, The Kennedy Center, The New Harmony Project, and The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis. She is currently the program executive for promoting culture at the Zellerbach Family Foundation. Margot is a graduate of California State University, Chico.
Marissa Wolf, Director
Currently in her second season as artistic director of Portland Center Stage at The Armory, Marissa previously served as associate artistic director/new works director at Kansas City Repertory Theatre and artistic director of Crowded Fire Theater in San Francisco. Select directing credits include Fire in Dreamland by Rinne Groff (The Public Theater; world premiere at KCRep); Man in Love by Christina Anderson and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Simon Stephens (KCRep); 77% by Rinne Groff (San Francisco Playhouse); Precious Little by Madeleine George (Shotgun Players); The Lily’s Revenge (Act II) by Taylor Mac (Magic Theatre); and The Late Wedding by Christopher Chen (Crowded Fire). She’s been nominated for Best Director by Broadway World San Francisco and the Bay Area Critics Circle. Marissa held the Bret C. Harte Directing Fellowship at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and has a degree in drama from Vassar College, with additional training from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.
Peter Ksander, Scenic Designer
Peter is a scenographer and media artist who’s stage design work has been presented both nationally and internationally. In 2006, he joined the curatorial board of the Ontological-Hysteric Incubator. In 2008, he won an Obie Award for the scenic design of Untitled Mars (this title may change), and in 2014 he won a Bessie Award for the visual design of This Was the End. Recent Portland credits include set designs for Arlington [A Love Story], John, Our Ruined House, Teenage Dick, and Uncle Vanya. He holds an M.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts, is an associate professor at Reed College, and is an associate company member with the Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble.
Alex Wren Meadows, Costume Designer
Alex is thrilled to be designing costumes for Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, following last season’s Buyer & Cellar. Regional design credits include shows for TimeLine Theatre, Next Theatre, Organic Theatre Company, Famous Door Theatre, Shattered Globe Theatre, Classical Kids Live, Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, and Monomy Theatre in Massachusetts. He received a Jeff Award nomination for The General from America at TimeLine Theatre. Alex is the costume shop manager at Portland Center Stage at The Armory and an adjunct instructor in costume design at Portland State University. He also previously managed the costume shop at Loyola University and taught costume design and costume construction. Alex holds an M.F.A. in costume design from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and a B.A. in theater design from UNC Asheville.
Jennifer Lin, Lighting Designer
Jennifer is a freelance lighting designer and stage technician who has been working behind the scenes for Portland theater, opera, and dance since 2008. She attended Portland State University and in 2007 received The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival’s Achievement Award for her lighting design for PSU’s production of Electra. Her designs have spanned a wide range of venues, disciplines, and styles, from site-specific dance (Re/Activate at Wieden+Kennedy) to innovative opera in bars (Opera Theater Oregon's The Medium at Someday Lounge) and children's theater (Oregon Children's Theatre's Diary of a Worm, a Spider, and a Fly). Jennifer is a core-company member of Third Rail Repertory Theatre, a member of IATSE local 28, and a recipient of the 2018-2019 Drammy Award for Outstanding Season. Recent work includes Evolve (August Wilson Red Door Project), Arlington, and Mother Come Home (Third Rail Repertory Theatre).
Phil Johnson, Sound Designer
Phil is a visual and theatrical artist based in Portland and the host of the podcast Radical Listening (Coho Productions). His recent productions include Cop Out and Hands Up (August Wilson Red Door Project), A Doll’s House, Part 2, Everybody, The Humans, and An Octoroon (Artists Repertory Theatre); Twilight, Elliot: A Soldiers Fugue, The Antigone Project (Profile Theatre); Worse Than Tigers (A Contemporary Theatre/Red Stage); Watsonville, Lydia, Contigo Pan y Cebolla (Milagro Theatre). Phil has a B.F.A. and M.A. from Ohio University. If you enjoyed the show please comment @Philjohnsonlive or visit philjohnsondesignstheworld.com for more content and show playlists.
Jessica Miller, Wig Designer
Jessica is so excited to be back for her third season as the wig master and designer for Portland Center Stage at The Armory. She has a B.A. in costume design from the University of Oregon. It is there where her passion for wig making and styling began. She later got her cosmetology license so that she could learn all aspects of hair. As a wig maker, her credits include last season's The Color Purple, Crossing Mnisose, and Sense and Sensibility.
Karl Hanover, Dialect Coach
Karl has been involved in theater in various capacities for the last 25 years. Previous dialect work includes Orlando, The Call, Blue Door, Antigone Project, Elliot: A Soldier's Fugue, and 2.5 Minute Ride with Profile Theatre; A Christmas Carol and The Language Archive with Portland Playhouse; Hen Night Epiphany, Belfast Girls, Lifeboat, Quietly, Hurl, How to Keep An Alien, and Eclipsed with Corrib Theatre; and recently A Christmas Memory at Portland Center Stage at The Armory. He received his M.F.A. in acting from the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver.
Mark Tynan, Stage Manager
Imagine being in a room full of artists, watching the birth of an idea, a movement given purpose, a sentence, phrase, scene, act given life. Then imagine that room translating to the stage with lighting, sound, costumes, scenery, and props; then you can imagine what Mark’s job is like. Special thanks to the stage management apprentices, Dana Petersen and Macarena Subiabre. Prior to Portland Center Stage at The Armory, Mark toured nationally and internationally with musicals including Dreamgirls, The King and I with Rudolf Nureyev, How to Succeed …, Grand Hotel, The Phantom of the Opera, Rent, and Jersey Boys. Other Portland credits include several summers with Broadway Rose Theatre Company in Tigard. Regional credits include Alley Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, and Casa Mañana Theatre.
Macarena Subiabre, Production Assistant
Macarena is excited to join Portland Center Stage at The Armory as a production assistant this season, where she was recently a production assistant for In the Heights. She graduated in 2018 with a B.F.A. in stage management from the University of Utah, where she stage managed productions such as: Arcadia, Cats, Into the Woods, Good Kids, and the U.S. premiere of The Beautiful Game. Other credits include: A Comedy of Tenors (Pioneer Theatre Company); How I Learned to Drive (Salt Lake Fringe Festival); You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Salt Lake Shakespeare); and Steel Pier, Dogfight, and A Funny Thing Happened … (University of Utah). She was also lucky to complete an internship with Cirque du Soleil where she worked on Zumanity and the Cirque Cabaret, 2018. She thanks her family, Bruce, and cat for all their love and support.
What Critics are Saying
"It sends off its audience basking in seasonal cheer and believing once again in the promise of soulmates." – The Oregonian
"Lots of romance and lots of laughs, some beautiful staging that's almost like dancing at times, and doses of good old-fashioned screwball comedy ... With fast-paced, smart directing by PCS Artistic Director Marissa Wolf and a beautifully diverse cast, Miss Bennet Christmas at Pemberley is a witty, first-class romp and a great way to celebrate the holiday season." - Ut Omnia Bene
"It’s a frothy, fun romantic comedy played out in gorgeous jewel-colored gowns; it’s a comedy of wit and manners; it’s the story of a woman searching for herself in what is to her an alien world ... relentlessly funny as well as thought-provoking." - Judy Nedry
"It's light and funny, warm-hearted ... this particular production of a fun and frothy play does up-end expectations in just the right ways." - The Portland Observer
"Straight-up funny ... heartwarming ... this play is a holiday treat." - BroadwayWorld
What Audiences are Saying
"Delightful, funny, charming, swoony, everything you want in a holiday rom com!"
"Really well done! Cute and funny! I'm not even a Jane Austen aficionado, and I loved it."
"Lauren Modica and Joshua J. Weinstein were a PURE DELIGHT to watch. I had all the feels. Great chemistry!"
"This was the best Christmas show ever!!!!"
"Fantastic and Hilarious. A must see."
"It was AMAZING!! Loved every minute."
A conversation with Anne DeWolf, avid Jane Austen fan and co-owner/principal designer at Arciform, sponsors of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley.