Jane Austen publishd six novels, and Monica performs each novel as an "era" of Jane (similar to another pop singer-songwriter you may have heard of), plus a 7th era about the writer herself. Don't worry if you're not overly familiar with every book (I'm embarrassed to admit I've only read two of the six, but this show inspired me to purchase the box set and read them all!), Monical introduces each era and gives a brief overview of the book and the characters she's singing about. Each novel gets one or two songs (or three in the case of Pride and Prejudice, because it's Pride and Prejudice), with the style of the song matching the personality of its featured heroine. From the Dashwood sisters' duet "Undone," to Emma Woodhouse's power song "Stand Back," to Lizzie Bennet's angry girl song "Pride" (at Mr. Darcy's first bumbled proposal), to "the party girls of Jane Austen" Kitty and Lydia's "Dance Until the Dawn," it's a fantastic collection of songs with great lyrics and catchy melodies. If you're familiar with Austen's characters you'll recognize them in these songs, but even if you're not, they're still great songs that are relatable, well sung, and fun to listen to.
|Monica Livorsi (photo by Emily Garst)
The performance space (which is larger than the usual seating area) is filled with chairs, couches, and tables, the walls draped with gauzy fabric and hung with frames, creating a cozy listening space and adding additional seating to the riser seating on one end. The lighting changes to match the mood of each song. A coffee and tea station at the entrance, with a little something to put in it, and seasonal candles add to the festive atmosphere. The overall effect is of a warm and welcoming space (production design by Eric Morris and Abbee Warmboe, lighting design by Shannon Elliott and Tracy Joe).
Buzz Music Theater lives in the intersection of pop culture and music-theater, and this show is a perfect example of that. It's the kind of show that appeals to fans of pop music, to book lovers, and to traditional theater goers. After talking to Eric and Laura and spending time in the space, I'm very excited to witness and participate in the growth of The Hive Collaborative. It's a really exciting addition to the local theater community, and All About Jane: The Eras of Austen is a fabulous debut. Performances continue through December 4 only, and then check out other upcoming events at the Hive.