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Theater students will perform 'Pride and Prejudice'

Set in London, "Pride and Prejudice" follows Elizabeth Bennet (left, played by Lexi Norvet) and her four sisters -- including Jane (Briana Moynihan) -- as they deal with 19th century issues of education, morality and marriage. The Red Wing High School production will be 7 p.m. Thursday Jan. 26; 7 p.m. Saturday Jan. 28 and 2 p.m. Sunday Jan. 29.1 / 3
Mr. Darcy (Luke Kays) begins to express his feelings for Elizabeth (Lexi Norvet).2 / 3
The Bennets welcome Mr. Darcy (Luke Kays, left), an eligible bachelor to their home. The family includes Miss Bingley (Emma Reese), Mary (Natalie Funk), Mr. Bennet (Alex Rosenow), Lydia (Lauren Gardner), Catherine (Kristen Anderson), Jane (Briana Moynihan) and Elizabeth (Lexi Norvet).3 / 3

As ambitious theater students prepared Monday for their winter play at the Red Wing High School, flashbacks from undergraduate performances tugged at the heart-strings of the seniors who influenced the selection of this year's show, "Pride and Prejudice."

Directed by curriculum coach Jillyene Raymond, the play premieres Thursday Jan. 26. The story is based on Jane Austen's novel by that name first published in 1813.

Several seniors bound together by their love of theater performance are exceptionally excited - after waiting years to act it.

"We told Mrs. Raymond we've wanted to do this piece since our freshman year," said senior Danielle Patterson.

She and a handful of other seniors have been a part of the annual winter play through all their high school years - growing as classmates, friends and actors.

"Each show has been a new experience to grow together and have fun," Patterson added.

"This group won," Raymond said with a laugh.

"They proved they could handle the commitment and with a classic you need a lot of talent," she said. "British accents and all."

Set in London, the play follows Elizabeth Bennet, played by senior Lexi Norvet, and her four sisters Jane (Briana Moynihan), Mary (Natalie Funk), Catherine (Kristen Anderson) and Lydia (Lauren Gardener) as they deal with 19th century issues of education, morality and marriage.

The single-set stage welcomes the audience into the Bennet living room. No set changes allow the cast to concentrate on their language and lines.

"The storytelling keeps the audience entertained," Raymond said, "not the action."

Line by line, the young thespians have learned, laughed and listened their way through the scripts. Knowing the challenge and complexity of that era's language, Raymond thought ahead and gave each of the cast members a British dialect compact disc.

"As a teacher and actress I know how hard it can be," she said of speaking in a different accent. "All of November we giggled over the lines, language and women of this different time period," she said.

"It's been a challenge," said senior Luke Kays, who plays the proud pompous bachelor Mr. Darcy. "The lines are awkward, but it is fun."

Students auditioned in May 2011 instead of the traditional fall tryout - giving them extra time to practice the script.

"The language is advanced for a winter play," senior Briana Moynihan said. "You had to be careful memorizing lines because the word order is from a different time period."

Thrilled by the progress of students, Raymond hopes the passion continues from one class to another. "In an ensemble you always need hard workers, but this time the seniors are such strong positive leaders and set the tone," she said. "When you are on stage acting is reacting and everyone is able to grow."

With the final days of rehearsal running to an end, cast members finesse the tiny details, while sharing lasting memories with one another.

"We are like a family," Kays said of his fellow cast.

"These are bittersweet moments," Patterson said of her last winter play.

"We have worked really hard to get here, now we are at the top and it's our time to shine," she said, adding, "even though I will probably cry a lot."

At a glance...

The Red Wing High School winter play presents "Pride and Prejudice."

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26; 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28; 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29

Where: Little Theatre, Red Wing High School

Cost: $2 adults, $1 students

Stacy Bengs-Silverberg

Stacy Bengs has been a photojournalist at the Red Wing Republican Eagle since 2010. She holds a bachelors degree in journalism and art from the University of Minnesota.

(651) 301-7880