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'Pride and Prejudice' takes stage at GMU

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Entertainment,Music,Emily Cary

L.A. Theatre Works celebrates the 200th birthday of the classic novel "Pride and Prejudice" onstage Sunday at George Mason University's Center for the Arts.

Susan Loewenberg, the founder and producing director of L.A. Theatre Works, describes the production as a radio drama that is semistaged with costumes, lighting and set projections. The actors perform with microphones, but not scripts. The show premiered in Chicago a quarter-century ago and later at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada.

The role of Elizabeth Bennet is played by Julia McIlvaine, who began her career as a child actress. She has appeared in numerous stage and TV shows and was the voice of June on Nickelodeon's "KaBlam!" She is joined by Nick Toren as Mr. Darcy, and veteran actors Jane Carr as Mrs. Bennet and Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Nicholas Hormann as Mr. Bennet and four other characters.

"LATW started 35 years ago as a group of young actors who gave improv presentations in prisons," Loewenberg said. "That segued into community theater, doing highly imaginative plays. Then in 1984, I was approached by a group of famous actors, among them Ed Asner, Marsha Mason and Stacy Keach, who wanted a place where they could perform plays. Richard Dreyfuss was especially interested in doing radio plays, so we began with a radio play of Sinclair Lewis's 'Babbitt.'

Onstage
'Pride and Prejudice'
Where: George Mason University Center for the Arts, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Info: $20 to $40, students free; 703-993-8888; cfa.gmu.edu

"Ed Asner starred in the title role. We did it in sections in the studio, and it took a year and a half for the radio editor to put it all together and present as a 14-hour marathon. NPR picked it up, followed by BBC. Since then, LATW has recorded hundreds of plays that are available in thousands of libraries worldwide. In 2005, we began touring performing arts venues nationwide, and in 2011 we were invited to China.

"One of our most popular recorded plays is 'Are You Now, or Have you Ever Been,' inspired by Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible' and the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Students borrow the recordings from libraries to help them learn history. This exemplifies what a wonderful resource the LATW recordings are for everyone. Similarly, our touring radio plays inspire by bringing celebrated classics to colleges and universities throughout the country."

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