Premier of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Predjudice: The Musical’ this weekend

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s novel “Pride and Prejudice,” and a local performance group is celebrating the anniversary with a production of a new musical adapted from her classic novel.

Kathleen Recchia of Jay (who has portrayed poet Emily Dickinson throughout the North Country) has been working on this musical for about six years, but it wasn’t until the subject matter captured the interest of her musician-son Sam that the project zoomed into high gear and became a reality.

Recchia has written all the lyrics and some of the melodies, but, as she says, “I’m just a plunker. I’ve never taken any music theory course and don’t follow any musical rules. So I needed someone (in this case, my son) to make music out of all this.”

Other musicians have offered guidance, tips and some sort of framework along the way, but it is recent Keene Central School graduate and Columbia University Freshman Sam Balzac, who has put it all together including overture, scene change music, and orchestration.

The play will be produced through the Book & Blanket Players Youth Theatre sponsored by East Branch Friends of the Arts. It will be performed at 7 p.m. Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday, following a week-long intensive theatre workshop at Keene Central School in Keene Valley.

Recchia has directed these Iron-Man (put-it-together-in-a-week) musicals with the kids before including an original musical that she and her son wrote called “Road to Dannemora.” But she is concerned that this year will be even more challenging.

“I’ve left much of Jane Austen’s language intact because I love it so,” she said. “But it will be like teaching the kids Shakespeare.

The cast of this original musical production of “Pride and Prejudice” consists of 27 students ranging in age from 8 to 18. Recchia’s son, composer Sam Balzac (who is also assistant directing) will take on the role of Mr. Darcy. Jessica Kemp of Saranac Lake is Elizabeth Bennet. The kids are primarily from the North Country but there are even students from the Catskills, Long Island, and Massachusetts, coming to join the North Country cast.

The performances are free but donations will be accepted to help defray costs.

For reservations or to learn more about the musical, “Pride and Prejudice,” call 518-946-8323 and check out the Facebook page: Book & Blanket Players.