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CenterStage

September 6, 2012
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‘Sense and Sensibility’ world premiere comes to Kirkwood Theater

By Amber Williams
amber@dmcityview.com

“Sense and Sensibility” opens at the Des Moines Social Club’s Kirkwood Theater on Saturday, Sept. 15. and runs throughout the month. Tickets are $7-$22 available to all ages through Midwestix at www.midwestix.com, www.rtiowa.com or by calling (515) 244-2771. Check for listings. Photo courtesy of the Repertory Theater of Iowa

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Story by Jane Austen, 1811

Playwright by Kerry Skram

Directed by Brad Dell

Produced by Repertory Theater of Iowa

Some things are simply universal regardless of where or when they occur — things like love, conflict and humor, all of which are elements woven into Jane Austen’s classic story “Sense and Sensibility.” Theatergoers in Des Moines will see those qualities personified by the hand-picked actors of the Repertory Theater as they debut local playwright Kerry Skram’s interpretation of the 1811 novel on stage at the upcoming world premiere.

The theater actress earned her degree from the American Academy of the Arts in New York before studying English at Iowa State University. After working and acting in Minneapolis for a few years, she’s returned to Des Moines armed not only with her diplomas and talents but with an idea to transform the Jane Austen classic into a theatrical production.

She first approached artistic director Joseph Leonardi with the idea two years ago, “but the kernels had been cooking for much longer than that,” she said.

“I’m a big Jane Austen fan,” Skram said. “When I lived in Minneapolis, I saw ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ And I enjoyed it so much that when I moved here, I thought about it more seriously.”

While transforming the novel into a play came with unique challenges not shared by Hollywood screenwriters — such as scene changes from a quaint village cottage to a swanky ballroom in London — Skram was resourceful and equipped with confident supporters from her Repertory Theater family.

“She took the novel, which is inherently narrative, and made choices to make it theatrical,” said director Brad Dell. “So the story is not told to us, but you get to see it live in real time. That’s what’s exciting about it — seeing it performed in a play makes it more in-the-now and more interpersonal.”

The “interpersonal” feeling comes through not only in the acting abilities of the cast, but through the true friendships that exist between the actors off stage.

“I know these women; I’m friends with these women,” Skram said. “I had these actors specifically in mind for some of these roles,” including herself, in fact. Skram plays a star role in the performance as the tempered and rational sister, Elinor Dashwood — always the voice of reason to her two sisters, the impulsive and passionate Marianne (Alissa T.S.) and the excitable ball of exuberant energy Margaret (Annie Feenstra).

The sisters and their widowed mother try to rebound from their father’s death while dealing with a rudely intrusive half-brother and his greedy wife who push them out of the home they’ve always known. Amid the emotional conflicts, the three girls want what women everywhere want: true love and happiness, with a handful of suitors who come to call.

It’s a universal story of love and desire that will leave the audience entrenched in the story, truly rooting for these women. CV



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