Janus Theatres presents summer play series
By Kathy Cichon For Sun-Times Media July 5, 2012 10:34AM
Robert Richardson as Darcy and Cady Leinicke as Elizabeth Bennet in Janus Theater Company’s “Pride & Prejudice.” | Courtesy of Janus Theatre
Janus Theater Company’s Summer Repertory Series
♦ “Pride & Prejudice”: July 6-8, 14 and 21
♦ “Two Gentlemen of Verona”: July 13-15, 20-22
♦ Elgin Art Showcase, 164 Division St., Elgin
♦ Tickets: $15 ordered online, $17 by phone
Romance is in the air — and on stage — in Elgin.
The Janus Theater Company’s summer repertory series “Austen in Elgin (Shakespeare on Division)” opens this weekend with a stage adaptation of the classic Jane Austen novel, “Pride and Prejudice.”
The tale of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy performs to July 21 at the Elgin Art Showcase, 164 Division St. Then, on July 13, William Shakespeare’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona” opens for a two-weekend run.
“It’s putting together two of the most popular writers in the English language,” said Sean Hargadon, founder and artistic director of Janus Theater Company.
While both offer comedy and romance, they also represent works written “in the early part of these very, very famous and very popular authors’ careers,” Hargadon said.
Shakespeare’s “Two Gentlemen,” which tells the story of the rivalry formed when best friends Valentine and Proteus fall in love with the same woman, is believed by many to be the Bard’s first play. Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is a revision of her 1797 work, “First Impressions.”
Both works, Hargadon said, “still speak today. That’s why they’re being done.”
When selecting two shows for this season, Janus almost chose an additional work by Austen, but opted instead for “Two Gentlemen.”
“We like Shakespeare a lot. He’s a lot of fun to do, especially because you can adapt it,” Hargadon said. “You can never go wrong with Shakespeare.”
For this production, “Two Gentlemen” will take place in the 1960s, and be presented in the style of Italian director Federico Fellini.
This year marks the second summer repertory season for the Janus, with the company staging Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” and Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” in 2011.
While repertory was popular many years ago and in cities, “you don’t see it much out in the suburbs,” Hargadon said.
“Repertory is very difficult to do because it uses a lot of resources,” he said.
Although there is a fair amount of cross over with crew members working on both shows, only one actor appears in both plays, he said. Each show has its own director and cast.
The company will tackle an additional challenge when it stages performances of both plays in one day.
On July 14 and 21, Janus Theater will hold a marathon performance of the plays. The curtain will open for “Pride & Prejudice” at 2 p.m. After that show, the set will be taken down and the one for “Two Gentlemen of Verona” will take its place. The performance of “Two Gentlemen” will begin at 8 p.m.
“If people want to see both of the shows in one afternoon, they can,” Hargadon said. “It’s ambitious, and fun.”