Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sense and Sensibility at the Guthrie (Dream Recasting)

image from Archive.org
Kate Hamill's adaptation of Sense and Sensibility is playing at the Guthrie Theater through October 29, 2016. Many of our theater blogger friends enjoyed it wholeheartedly. I wish I could say the same. I didn't love the adaptation, or the staging.

I'm a steadfast Austenite and a fan of Sense & Sensibility (the movie, the musical, and this tv version). I also adore any opportunity to see an amazing cast that includes Sally Wingert, Robert Dorfman, Ayesha Kinnunen, Emily Gunyou Halaas and more. I just wish the casting was more in line with Austen's original characters and story.

So here's my dream local casting of Sense & Sensibility:

Elinor Dashwood - Emily Gunyou Halaas
Halaas was wasted as Lucy Steele/Gossip in the ensemble of this cast. She has a unique ability to play very smart and clever with just a little bit of endearing quirk.

Marianne Dashwood - Ayesha Kinnunen
Seeing Kinnunen playing Anne Steele/Gossip just reminded me what a wonderfully engaging actress she is. Marianne has more than a little nutty in her, and Kinnunen could play beautiful with a bit of crazy perfectly.

I love the layers casting these two actresses would give the show. The relationship between Elinor and Marianne is the central relationship in the story. I think Halaas and Kinnunen would depict that relationship with chemistry and believability.

Mrs. Dashwood - Carolyn Pool or Christina Baldwin
A frequent misstep in adaptations of Sense & Sensibility is making Mrs. Dashwood too old and not attractive. She is essentially a trophy wife, and quite young and attractive when her husband dies. Either Pool or Baldwin would play a beautiful, slightly flighty Mrs. Dashwood perfectly.

Fanny Dashwood - Annie Enneking or Sheena Janson or Meghan Kreidler
Any of these actresses would give Fanny the perfect steely, strong and slightly cruel bent that she needs. This is a strong character and one of Austen's great villains, and needs strong casting.

John Dashwood - Zach Curtis
I might be influenced by just having seen Curtis knock it out of the park in Park Square's The Liar, but Curtis would play John with good intentions but terribly weak will. Plus, he can do funny with great subtlety.

Mrs. Jennings - Thomasina Petrus
This character is a force of nature, and wonderfully comic and energetic. I'd love to see Petrus play this character. She would liven up every single scene, and provide a great contrast to the more demure and quiet Dashwood family.

Sir John Middleton - Gavin Lawrence
Thinking of Petrus as Mrs. Jennings, she needs a fabulously energetic partner in crime as Sir John, and Gavin Lawrence would kick butt in this role. His engaging energy would partner perfectly with Petrus.

John Willoughby - Eric "Pogi" Sumangil or Alex Galick
Willoughby needs to to be played with lightness and with charm to spare. Though very different types, I think Sumangil or Galick could bring the charm to this role for days, and make everyone fall in love with them (which is what Willoughby does).

Lucy Steele - Suzie Juul 
Lucy's seemingly innocent naivete hides a rather conniving mind. With her wide-open guileless face (that can hide a craftier side), Juul could pull this off amazingly.

Anne Steele - Joy Dolo
A pretty small role, but casting Dolo as Anne would pack a tremendous punch. Her personality and crack comic timing would add so much to this character.

Colonel Brandon - Bill McCallum
Brandon needs to be attractive enough (not just handsome, but charismatic) to attract Marianne's eventual attention, as well as draw attention to the role. He needs to be strong and able to pull off the tragic past without a lot of nonsense. I'd love to see McCallum tackle this role.

Edward Ferrars - Michael Wieser
Edward has a rather shy naivete combined with a subtle charm. He needs to be loyal enough to not break it off with Lucy, and still dashing enough to romance Elinor. When I first considered this role, I'd love to see Ryan Colbert or Jucoby Johnson take it on. However, they're a bit young to be paired with Elinor. I choose Michael Wieser instead, but he might need to tone down the sexy intensity a bit. After all, he's a man of God.

Robert Ferrars - Jay Eisenberg
A bit dashing, a bit sketchy, Eisenberg would beautifully evoke the contrast between him and his brother Edward. And the chemistry between Eisenberg's Ferrars and Juul's Lucy would be rich and complex and fun.

Miss Grey - Caroline Innerbichler or Shanan Custer
Just because it would be amazingly fun to see these amazing comediennes take on this small but crucial role.

Now, if I only had an amazingly well-funded theater company of my very own! To badly paraphrase Jane Austen in the original novel:
“The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a [production of Sense & Sensibility] whom I can really love. I require so much!”
(co-written by Carly and Jules)