Members of the cast of Sense and Sensibility. Back row (left to right): Rachel Charny, Desirée Mee Jung, Hilary Ward, Rebecca Mozo, Nike Doukas and Abigail Marks; front row: Preston Butler III, Joel Gelman, Dileep Rao and Josh Odsess-Rubin. Not pictured, Matt Orduña. Photo by Danielle Bliss
The cast for Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility includes new faces and SCR veterans—starting with the Dashwood Sisters themselves, Hilary Ward (Elinor) in her SCR debut and Rebecca Mozo (Marianne) returning to one of her favorite stages and for her 10th show here. The adaptation of Austen’s story by British playwright Jessica Swale is funny, endearing and heartwarming, which makes the cast’s work even more delightful. Rehearsals, now in full swing, started with a 19th century basic—dance lessons—and moved on to costume fittings, wig fittings, dialect coaching and more. The 11 actors—who portray 17 characters—are eager to bring Austen’s characters to life. Here’s what some of them have to say about the characters they portray and which characters they identify with the most in the play.
Portrays Marianne Dashwood.
Last at SCR: World premiere of Bekah Brunstetter’s Going to a Place where you Already Are (2016); readings of Continuity (NewSCRipts, 2018) and Love & Contracts (Pacific Playwrights Festival, 2018).
The character she identifies with the most: Since I was a little girl, Marianne Dashwood is the character I identify with the most of among the Dashwood sisters. She is unconventional, emotional, bold and unafraid of expressing her feelings and opinions. She is direct and loves with her whole heart. Much like Marianne, I have experienced how people can bristle and attempt to punish you for this openness, as it is generally considered unladylike or overly emotional. Women are supposed to follow a certain set of rules. Marianne doesn’t adhere to such rules and neither do I. It’s an absolute dream come true to play her.
Portrays Elinor Dashwood.
At SCR: She is making her debut.
Other credits include: “Sharp Objects,” “NCIS” and HBO’s All the Way.
About Elinor Dashwood: Like her, I'm the oldest of three and have always had a pretty level head. I didn't even drink a beer until I went to college! What I love most about Elinor is that, while she has the discipline to observe the rules of decorum and try to manage her family and all its affairs, her emotional life is so full. Often, people do not realize just how affected I am by an event, because my first reaction isn't usually expressed in an extroverted kind of way. I need time to process my reaction before I'm ready to express how I feel. Elinor butts up against the obstacles that separate her from Edward again and again, but her instinct is always to care for others. It's so beautiful and a lovely challenge to play.
Preston Butler III
Last at SCR: August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean (2017).
The character he identifies with the most: Despite his egregious actions, I feel that I identify most with the character I play, John Willoughby. I think I share some of the attributes that make Willoughby so distinct. He is passionate and possesses a personality that is both charming and effortless. We both have a deep desire for adventure and our interests span from the athletic to the artistic. We are romantics who never shy away from the exquisite. However, his privilege and lack of guidance lead him into a world of trouble. It was a pleasure finding empathy for such a complex character and hope that you can find some for him, too!
Portrays Lucy Steele and a Gossip.
At SCR: Theatre Conservatory productions, various Cratchit daughters in A Christmas Carol. A 2018 graduate of SCR’s Acting Intensive Program.
About Lucy Steele: She is strong-minded, knows what she wants, is quite sharp but a bit socially oblivious. She has been secretly engaged to Edward Ferrars for four years and decides to share this secret with only Elinor—maybe to try to ward her off Edward, but also to unload this secret that she has kept for so long. I love the Austen-style chaos that ensues.
But she identifies most with: Marianne Dashwood. She definitely follows her heart, is open and quite free and isn’t afraid of what anyone thinks of her. She loves nature and poetry and is just this beautiful, romantic, strong-minded young woman and I really admire her.
Portrays Mrs. Dashwood, Mrs. Palmer and Miss Grey.
Last at SCR: Reading of Love & Contracts; the world premiere of Yoga Play; All the Way.
About Mrs. Dashwood: I admire Mrs. D. for her strength of character. She is recently widowed, yet we never hear her complain. I don’t think she’s a stoic; I think she puts her daughters’ welfare before her own, and I think her joy is in helping her daughters find their own happiness in life. Despite facing poverty, grief and single parenthood, she seems to find great delight and joy in the company of her children. I also love that she values good character over material possessions. I only wish she’d be a bit more supportive of her youngest daughter’s passion for the animal world.
Portrays Thomas and Mr. Palmer.
Last at SCR: Ella Enchanted: The Musical (2017, Theatre for Young Audiences).
The character he identifies with the most: It’s Marianne Dashwood! She points a finger to and fights against things that she views to be unjust often to her detriment. I often find myself railing against things that seem unfair as well and I frequently need to be reminded that sometimes things are just not fair and that I need to move the heck on.
Desirée Mee Jung
Portrays Margaret Dashwood.
At SCR: She is making her debut.
Her other credits include: Love’s Labor’s Lost, Edward III, As You Like It, Merchant of Venice, Rose and the Rime, 99 Histories, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Antaeus Theatre Company, The Theatre @ Boston Court, Artists at Play.
About Margaret: She is fiercely independent, intelligent, very perceptive and loves everything about nature. She speaks what's on her mind and isn't afraid of taking the road less traveled.
Portrays Fanny Dashwood/Mrs. Jennings
At SCR: She is making her debut.
Her other credits include: Hamlet, As You Like It, Cloud 9, Top Girls, Eurydice, Uncle Vanya, “Glee,” “The Dream.”
About Fanny and Mrs. Jennings: Even though they seem like opposites, my characters are two sides of the same coin. These ladies are single-minded in their desire to create financial safety and security for their loved ones: Fanny is a villain for being single-minded in her pursuit of financial security for herself, while Mrs. Jennings is the comedic relief because she obsesses about marriage as the means to all happiness. I hope audiences will enjoy these ladies, because they always do what they think is best, even when it doesn’t look that way!
Portrays Edward Ferrars.
At SCR: He is making his debut.
His other credits include: As You Like It, The Imaginary Invalid, Animal Crackers, King Lear, Romeo & Juliet, The Descendant, The Theatre @ Boston Court, Yale Repertory Theatre, Ars Nova, Playwrights Horizons.
About Edward Ferrars: He is a young man trying to do the honorable thing, even if that means going against his family and losing the one he loves most. Edward is a very sincere person, who is far more at ease gazing at the stars than maneuvering in society. He is both deeply feeling and absolutely awful at expressing emotions aloud. His introversion and innate goodness stand in direct contrast to his charismatic yet callow brother Robert. Edward is a fan of long walks along the cliff and going to church, and is a self-professed bird nerd.
Portrays Colonel Brandon.
Last at SCR: Reading of House of Joy (2018) and the world premiere of Dipika Guha’s Yoga Play (2017).
About Colonel Brandon: He’s a good man— hurt by circumstances and lost love; a bachelor still, who hopes maybe possibly to find love again. He’s complex, proper and a gracious, if careful, member of society; but underneath all that, a storm rages that is full of passion and hidden depth. He experiences that dazzling, terrifying power of love at first sight— or maybe first listen. Something almost spiritual, like being struck by lightning and feeling its daze and blinding warmth from that moment on. Feelings like that can be ecstatic, but also catastrophic. I admire him, his duty and sense of right and wrong. His care with the feelings of others and the fact that he is true, true as the North Star that Edward Ferrars identifies for Elinor and Margaret and true as a compass.
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