By Anne Flinders, dramaturg
“It’s a distinct pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
Brigham Young University’s world premiere production of Melissa Leilani Larson’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice opens tonight! Coinciding with opening weekend, we want to introduce you to some of the people behind the scenes and on the stage of this exciting new play. Following are excerpts from interviews with cast members and designers whose work you will see when you come to the show. Over the next few days we will introduce you to more of the cast and staff.
RORY SCANLON, SCENIC DESIGNER, BYU FACULTY MEMBER
“When you build your house, I wish it might be half as sublime as Pemberley.”
Rory Scanlon has taught at BYU for 30 years. One of the things Professor Scanlon enjoys about teaching here is that the production schedule allows students and faculty to work together on projects.
Of working on Pride and Prejudice Professor Scanlon says, “This play has been a challenge because it requires 44 locations and 64 scene changes! Plus, we want to make all of this happen without any breaks, in front of the audience’s eyes.”
When we asked Professor Scanlon what message from the play he would like to convey, he responded, “For me Pride and Prejudice speaks to how we view ourselves and those around us. We make judgment calls daily, but we might want to remember that these decisions are based on our limited knowledge and personal prejudices. When we recognize ourselves as faulty characters, we can then understand that others are also only human.”
BECKY MASKELL, ANNE de BOURGH, BYU STUDENT
“She is so very—small.”
Becky is from Temecula, CA. She actually went to community college to save money and avoid going to BYU. “When I think of how I got to BYU,” she says, “I think of the line in [the animated film] Kung Fu Panda: ‘One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.’ That is exactly what happened to me and I am so grateful it did.” Becky is graduating from BYU this April with a B.A. in Theatre Arts.
Becky shared with us that acting was her dream, and it still is. “I didn’t get a passion for it until I was 12 years old and I’ve been doing it ever since. However, I was very blessed to learn that acting isn’t my whole life. Theatre will always be a part of my life, but it is only one of many that make up the whole.”
Becky told us that for her, the journey of this play has offered her the opportunity to have a small role where she can spend rehearsals “watching and working with incredibly talented actors. I feel like I have learned so much from them. My favorite part about working on any show is my cast family. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into a show, but we also goof around and have fun. We can’t take ourselves too seriously.”
MARVIN PAYNE, MR BENNET, GUEST ARTIST
“What an excellent father you have, girls.”
Marvin is from Southern California, but has lived in Alpine, Utah, for forty years. He says, “I came to Utah to attend BYU and just stayed.”
Here is how Marvin described his introduction to acting: “I was seduced into acting at age 33 (the year hobbits come of age). Before and during my acting adventures I have been a songwriter, guitar-picker, playwright, and all-purpose wordsmith.”
We asked Marvin what the journey of making this play has been like for him. He told us that for him this play has included a lot of introspection, “asking myself how much I’m like my character; the answer to which turns out to be, ‘A lot.’ My character’s journey is from amused casual involvement with the people in his world to a realization of how much he really needs and loves them.”
LAURA WARDLE, MRS BENNET, GUEST ARTIST
“One must make sacrifices to win a husband. That’s a valuable lesson for you all.”
Laura was born in Brooklyn and raised in upstate New York. She met her husband Tom while they were both students at BYU, and they have been married for almost 33 years. They have two children who also have academic roots at BYU. Her family moved to Midway, Utah, last year.
Laura took a twenty plus year hiatus from the stage. This past fall, however, she returned to acting in the Covey Art Center’s production of Agatha Christie’s The Unexpected Guest, which was directed by Barta Heiner. “I hadn’t planned on doing another show quite so soon,” Laura told us, “but when Barta called to ask if I would be interested in auditioning for the part of Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice it sounded like too much fun to pass up! It has been a joy to bring Mel Larson’s wonderful adaptation of P&P to life.”
Laura served on the Motion Picture Association of America Ratings Board, the twelve person panel that applies the G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17 rating to more than 600 films annually. She also loves volunteer work. While living in New Jersey she spent 10 years volunteering at The Seeing Eye, the oldest school for guide dogs for the blind in the world. She also volunteers for BYU’s Lacrosse team, selling tee shirts, sweatshirts and other team gear at home games. (Her son will return to playing for the team when he comes home from serving a mission). She loves 19th Century British literature, hiking with her black lab, and all things Disney.
It’s the hottest ticket in town! Be sure to get your tickets soon; they’re going fast!