Musical version of Austen classic returns from run in Britain
Who: Tin Roof Productions
Book: Karen Hamer, based on the Jane Austen novel
Music and lyrics: Karen Hamer and Jessamine Hamer
Director: Karen Hamer
Cast: Amy York Pine, Will Adelmann, Jessamine Hamer. Lisa Young and Jeremy Holtrop
When: 7 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Tri Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Hwy 105 in Palmer Lake
Tickets: $16, $14 seniors, $12 students; 719-422-6544, tinroof-productions.com
Something else: Check out the preview video at Tin Roof's website.
"Necessity is the mother of invention."
This English proverb is a perfect description of how Tin Roof Productions founder Karen Hamer created and nurtured "Sense and Sensibility, A Musical."
"This is our third musical," says Hamer, who founded "Tin Roof" with her husband Frank in 2008. "Back in 2006, I wrote my first musical adaptation, which was 'Anne of Green Gables.' I put in as much as possible from the book and wrote the lyrics. People came, they wept through it. It was magical. Then I thought, 'What can I can do that people will really want to come to?'"
So was born the Jane Austen period of Hamer's theatrical career. "Sense and Sensibility" returns to the area this weekend after a successful run at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath.
"Pride and Prejudice" opened in November 2009 to brisk ticket sales: Almost 1,800 people attended, she says. "It really came off the big 'Pride and Prejudice' obsession that existed in the culture. People came from Denver, Woodland Park: I knew it was nothing about the show because there were no previews or reviews. They loved it.
"We sort of mistakenly went on thinking, 'Oh, we'll just do another one and it will just be like that.'"
That was to be Hamer's musical version of "Sense and Sensibility," which opened in Dec 2011, the 200th anniversary of the book. It proved to be more problematic than "Pride."
Hamer cast the play in May. In June, she threw her script away. "It was boring. It had turned into this drawing room play. People just sat and talked to each other."
She and her daughter were writing lyrics and songs but still didn't have a script.
"We got to September and started rehearsals," she remembers. "The cast would show up and we'd say 'There's still no script, but here's another song.'"
Cast member Lisa Young made Hamer on offer she couldn't refuse: Young would watch Hamer's children for four days so the script could be finished.
With a cast of 18, about 1,000 people attended a dozen performances in the theatre at First United Methodist Church. "It made people happy." She decided to spread the "happiness" to England and the Jane Austen Festival 2012 in Bath.
In order to mount the show overseas, numerous changes had to be made. First, the cast needed to be smaller. So the dozen actors who agreed to travel played two or three roles.
And the script was rivised to accomodate the changed settings. This is the version that plays the Tri-Lakes Arts Center this weekend.
"Jane Austen will be on stage," explains Hamer. "She talks with her characters, they argue with her about the way things are going, she manipulates the story. That element is much stronger in this rewrite."
Hamer, in fact, introduces the play's setting and the characters before the musical begins.
"I find people really like it," she says. "It's the truth."