In the 1998 romantic comedy "You've Got Mail," Meg Ryan played a book store owner obsessed with Jane Austen's novel "Pride and Prejudice," which was published in the early 1800s and remains one of the more popular romances of all time.
In Austen's book, set in 1813 England, the five Bennet sisters have been raised to have one purpose in life: to find a husband. After a wealthy bachelor takes up residence in a nearby estate, the girls prepare for parties and dancing, while Mrs. Bennet dreams of suitors for her daughters. When the passionate and witty Elizabeth Bennet meets the new neighbor's best friend, the taciturn Mr. Darcy, misunderstandings, miscommunications flourish and sparks fly.
The Milwaukee Rep tackles Joseph Hanreddy and director J.R. Sullivan's adaptation of Austen's classic this month at the Quadracci Powerhouse Theater.
"There is hardly a better love story written than this elegant, funny, sharply-observed and richly-rendered novel by Jane Austen," Sullivan said.
"What draws us to the story, I think, is the very thing that matters most: as readers, or as playgoers and filmgoers, we find truth in the characters, humor in their all-too-recognizable behavior in situations - dilemmas sometimes of their own making and sometimes not - and appreciation of their observations of themselves, especially heroine Elizabeth Bennet.
"And there is joy, true happiness in fulfillment, in this story's conclusion. I have to say, and I don't think this is from an unrepentant romantic, that I never tire of such a story as Pride and Prejudice, a story of the trials, missteps and misunderstandings on a path to love. It is a triumph over circumstances that would scuttle joy, a fulfillment of the happy end most of us hold close as ‘always possible.'"
Hanreddy and Sullivan's version focuses on Elizabeth and Darcy's story, telling the tale over the passage of a year and shedding light on the Bennet family.
"Pride and Prejudice" runs through March 29. Tickets cost $10 to $60 and are available at The Rep box office and milwaukeerep.com