Jason Biszick isn't about to suggest he's always been an enthusiastic, longtime Jane Austen fan. But he is now.
"I have always known of 'Pride and Prejudice,' but, and don't tell my English teacher, I never read it until I was introduced through this piece," said Biszick, who stars as Mr. Bennett and a handful of other characters in the Schenectady Civic Players production of Austen's classic, opening Friday and running through Dec. 15. "This play is a highly entertaining and creative piece to be a part of, with all the characters being played by five very talented artists."
The production isn't your typical Jane Austen play. The version has been adapted by Daniel Elihi Kramer, a Smith College theater professor and artistic director at the Chester Theatre Company near Northampton, Massachusetts. It's written specifically for five actors to do all the work onstage, but in addition to the 1820 setting, Kramer has enhanced the love story between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet by including modern voices such as blog posts, chat room discussions, references to film adaptations and even letters from Austen herself.
"Some of my favorite parts of the play, besides the comedic aspects, are the inclusions of Jane Austen's actual letters," said Biszick. "The letters to her sister Cassandra offer a personal perspective behind the story."
Along with playing Mr. Bennet, Elizabeth's father, Biszick also portrays Mr. Bingley, Sir William, Footman, Mr. Wickham, Mr. Gardiner and Colonel Fitzwilliam. Siobhan Shea is Elizabeth, the primary character in the story, while others playing multiple roles are Cedar Brock, Amanda Charlebois and Abbi Roy.
A native of Beacon in the lower Hudson Valley, Biszick has become a regular performer at the Schenectady Civic Playhouse since working on "Stage Door" in 2008. Currently an Albany resident, he graduated from the University of Buffalo with a degree in theater performance.
"This is my 10th play on the mainstage with SCP, along with various appearances in their staged readings and murder mysteries along the way," said Biszick, who has also performed with Albany Civic Theater. "I always enjoy the opportunity to work alongside the actors, of course, but more importantly the extremely talented and dedicated production people behind the scenes who make it all possible."
Mark Stephens is directing the SCP production, which will get a visit from the playwright -- Kramer, not Austen -- Saturday night for a talk-back session after the show.
'Greetings' at Curtain Call
Carol Max's holiday offering this season at Curtain Call Theatre in Latham is Tom Dudzick's comedy "Greetings," opening Thursday and running through Dec. 21.
Directed by Kris Anderson, the story centers on a young man who brings his Jewish atheist fiancee home to meet his very Catholic parents. The cast includes Steve Leifer, Susan Dantz, Ryan Palmer, Chad Reid and Sarah Wasserbach.
Also opening this weekend is a Classic Theater Guild production of "Scrooge: A Family Musical" in the Addy Theater at Proctors.
George Fileau plays the iconic title character in the show, which is being directed by Glenn Read. Based on the Dickens Christmas classic, the musical production includes a cast of 20 actors. Local musician Raymond Kim is the musical director and Deana Clapp is the choregorapher.
'Pride and Prejudice'
WHERE: Schenectady Civic Playhouse, 12 South Church St., Schenectady
WHEN: Opens Friday and runs through Dec. 15; performances at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $20
MORE INFO: (518) 382-2081 or www.civicplayers.org
WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 1 Jeanne Jugan Lane, Latham
WHEN: Opens Thursday and runs through Dec. 21; performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $25
MORE INFO: (518) 877-7529 or www.curtaincalltheatre.com
'Scrooge: A Family Musical'
WHERE: The Addy Theater in Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: Opens Friday and runs through Dec. 15; performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1:30 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $25-$22.50
MORE INFO: (518) 346-6204 or www.the CTG page on Facebook