While the Bennets and Darcys are celebrating upstairs, the servants below stairs find themselves in the midst of a holiday scandal. Lydia’s ne’er-do-well husband Mr. Wickham has arrived, and it’s up to the loyal housekeeper, footman, and new maid to keep the festivities running smoothly without revealing the unwelcome guest. As old misunderstandings and new secrets start to spiral out of control, the residents of Pemberley prove that family, forgiveness, and the true spirit of giving always win the day.
Read a synopsis of The Wickhams here.
The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley is a rolling world premiere commissioned and originally produced by The Jungle Theater, Minneapolis, MN; Marin Theatre Company, Mill Valley, CA; and Northlight Theatre, Chicago, IL
by Hedy Weiss
November 19, 2019
‘The Wickhams’ Puts a Beguiling Twist on a Jane Austen Sequel
No offense to the enduring delights of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” but those in search of an alternative to Ebenezer Scrooge and his ghostly visitors, and the goose and pudding served up at the Cratchit family dinner, are strongly advised to stock up on orange biscuits and head to Northlight Theatre instead. That is where you will find “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley,” the second (in a planned trilogy) of wonderfully sophisticated, utterly beguiling riffs on Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” co-authored by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon.
Like the first installment, “The Bennets: Christmas at Pemberley” – a hit at Northlight when it debuted in 2016 – the “The Wickhams” is a sequel to Austen’s beloved 1813 novel about the trials and tribulations of the financially challenged Bennet family, in which five sisters must secure their futures, ideally by means of good marriages. And once again, under the fleet, slyly comic direction of Jessica Thebus, “The Wickhams” is receiving a production of immense charm and polish, with an ideal cast, some of whom are reprising their roles.
The play’s dialogue has a snap, crackle and pop energy and a playfully feminist spirit that Austen would surely have appreciated, but it also remains true to its Regency era mentality. And the chemistry among the actors could not be more ideal as Gunderson and Melcon subtly but insightfully explore the many different ways in which romantic relationships can evolve and social class can shape character.
by Steven Oxman
November 18, 2019
3.5 Stars (out of 4)
‘The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley’ is the next marvelous chapter in the saga of the Bennet sisters
A delicious bonbon of a play, “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley,” should come in a box wrapped in a bow with a holiday card on top.
Written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, “The Wickhams” is a follow-up to their enormously successful play “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley,” which — serving as an adult-oriented but inoffensive alternative to “A Christmas Carol” — has become one of the most produced plays in the country. Like “Miss Bennet,” this play gets its world premiere at Northlight.
The writers have hit on a great formula: examine the under-examined sisters of Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy (Netta Walker), the deservedly beloved heroine of Austen’s original 1813 novel, who managed both to find ideal love and marry into great wealth at the same time, and who now invites — or perhaps tolerates — her family to join her for Christmas at her enormous estate.
Directed by Jessica Thebus, the production boasts some magnificent acting without a weak link in the ensemble, and the design work is so ideal that it also mostly disappears, which means that it’s focusing our attention on the action of the play itself.
by Chris Jones
November 19, 2019
3 Stars (out of 4)
‘The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley’ is Jane Austen fan fiction at its holiday finest
Box offices across America hummed for their “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley,” a seasonally themed sequel to “Pride and Prejudice.” Now comes “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley,” a seasonally themed sequel to the seasonally themed sequel to “Pride and Prejudice,” except that events are happening simultaneously with the show we saw last year. This episode is especially “Downton”-esque in that it focuses on what is transpiring below stairs, specifically the attempts by the Pemberley staff to thwart the schemes of George Wickham (WIll Mobley), the profligate husband of Lydia (Jennifer Latimore), even as Elizabeth Darcy (Netta Walker) and, of course, Fitzwilliam Darcy (Luigi Sottile) celebrate their young household. Most specifically, the play focuses on a budding romance between the servants Brian (Jayson Lee) and Cassie (Aurora Real de Asua), who is written as a woke version of Daisy the “Downton” cook.
This is, in essence, well-crafted fan-fiction (coming next year: Christmas at Pemberley, as seen on the grass outside), as made possible by the expiration of copyright protection. And, as is required these days, there is a moralist tone to the writing: Mr. Darcy is no longer allowed to get by on his handsome looks, but must learn to offer more class mobility, like an apprenticeship or an internship, to those who who serve his daily needs. Whether this radical one-man eradication of the boundaries of the rigid British class system would have occurred to Mr. Darcy (or Jane Austen) in 1815 is immaterial. In another amusing transfusion of contemporary progressive sensibilities into a period where such a sentiment would have been unimaginable, Cassie says to her beau, “Love is about seeing someone and allowing them to be exactly as they are.” She’s like an arrow from the feminist future stuck in Austen’s quiver.
Why not? Austen is not around to object and, given her own subversiveness, she might well have approved. This latest show, which is an easy watch at under two hours including a generous intermission, will, for Austen fans, be like watching a long-lost Christmas episode from their favorite author.
Jennifer returns to Northlight after appearing in Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley as Lydia Wickham. She is a Georgia peach at heart, but enjoys the cold of the Midwest. Some Chicago theater credits include Bernhardt/Hamlet (Goodman); Too Heavy For Your Pocket (TimeLine) for which she won the 2019 Black Theater Alliance Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play; We Are Proud To Present… (Steppenwolf); Twelfth Night, The Importance Of Being Earnest, The MLK Project (Writers); Macbeth, Love’s Labor’s Lost (Chicago Shakespeare). Regional credits include Ann in The African Company Presents Richard III and Chloe in Arcadia (American Players Theatre). Film/TV: An Acceptable Loss, Killing Eleanor, The Chi (Showtime); Chicago PD (NBC); Empire, and Proven Innocent (FOX). Much thanks to God and her family for continued support and love.
Jayson is extremely excited to be making his Northlight Theatre debut! Jayson completed his BFA Acting training from The Theatre School at DePaul University this past June. Some of his favorite credits include Hooded; or being black for dummies (First Floor Theatre) that received Jeff Nominations for Best Play and Best Ensemble and also earned him BTAA nominations for Most Promising Actor and Best Actor in an Ensemble; A Dybbuk: or between two worlds, Into the Woods, and Oresteia (The Theatre School) the US premiere by Robert Icke. You can see Jayson next in Victory Gardens’ production of How to Defend Yourself.
Will is pleased to make his Northlight debut. Chicago credits include The Winter’s Tale U/S (Goodman); Ragtime (Marriott); My Fair Lady (Lyric Opera); SS! Twelfth Night (Chicago Shakespeare); Days Like Today, Julius Caesar U/S (Writers). Regional: Miss Bennett: Christmas at Pemberley (Theatre Squared); The Legend of Georgia McBride (Cardinal Stage Company); The Hound of the Baskervilles, A Christmas Carol, Other Desert Cities (Indiana Repertory Theater); Other Desert Cities (Arizona Theatre Company); The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Hamlet, Antony and Cleopatra, Twelfth Night, Richard III, The Admirable Crichton, The Taming of the Shrew, The Critic, and Of Mice and Men (American Players Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (tour), Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, and Great Expectations (Utah Shakespeare Festival); and The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Artists Repertory Theatre). Will is also a member of the Chicago band The Winchesters (thewinchestersband.com).
Aurora Real de Asua
Aurora is proud to debut at Northlight. Previous credits include The Adventures of Augie March (Court); Pipeline (Victory Gardens); The Wolves (Goodman); Dracula, You On the Moors Now (Hypocrites); Firebirds Take the Field (Rivendell); and Rosencranz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Metropolis Performing Arts). She has understudied for productions at Lookingglass and Chicago Shakespeare. She is also a playwright and her play The Pride Before was part of the 2019 Freshness Initiative at sideshow theatre. Film credits include Knives and Skin and Workingman. She received her BA from Northwestern University and is represented by Gray Talent.
Luigi returns to Northlight after appearing in The Book of Will. Chicago credits include Bernhardt/Hamlet, Hundreds and Hundreds of Stars (Goodman); The Tempest, Othello, Shakespeare In Love (Chicago Shakespeare); Familiar, Buena Vista (Steppenwolf). Regional: Sex With Strangers (Signature Theatre, DC); Zombie: The American (Woolly Mammoth); The Three Musketeers, Much Ado About Nothing (Utah Shakespeare Fest.); Angels In America Parts I & II, …The Vibrator Play, Leaving (Wilma Theater); The Three Sisters, Cyrano (Arden Theatre); A Christmas Carol (Milwaukee Rep); The Two Gentlemen Of Verona, Troilus And Cressida, Private Lives (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Fest.); An Ideal Husband (Walnut Street Theatre); Seminar (Philadelphia Theatre Co.); Nathan the Wise, Cherry Orchard (People’s Light & Theatre); The Lonesome West, Hothouse, The School For Wives, The Government Inspector (Lantern Theater); and The Mystery Of Irma Vep (Act II Playhouse).
Penny last appeared at Northlight in Into the Breeches!. Other Northlight productions include By the Water, You Can’t Take It With You, Chapatti, Sense & Sensibility and A Life. Chicago credits include: Sweet Bird of Youth (Goodman); Uncle Vanya (After Dark Award), The Importance of Being Earnest, James Joyce’s “The Dead” (Court); Old Glory, Another Part of the Forest (Jeff Award), Bus Stop, The Subject Was Roses (Writers). Regional: Silent Sky, A Murder is Announced, Chapatti, The Hollow (Peninsula Players); My Fair Lady (Asolo Repertory); Sense & Sensibility (Actors Theatre of Louisville and Saint Louis Repertory). International Theatre: Chapatti and Stella & Lou (Northlight at Galway International Arts Festival, Ireland), August: Osage County (Steppenwolf at Sydney Theatre, Australia). Film: Virginia, Meet the Browns, Grace is Gone. Television: The Connie Banks Show.
Recent credits include Yen (Raven Theater, Jeff Award for Best Supporting Performer); Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Milwaukee Repertory Theater); Hamlet, Grapes of Wrath (The Gift Theatre); No Child (Definition Theatre); Continuity (Goodman, New Stages); Great Expectations (Silk Road Rising/Remy Bumppo); Puff: Believe it or Not! (Remy Bumppo); Spin Moves (Victory Gardens, Ignition Festival); truth and reconciliation (Sideshow Theatre); and Coriolanus (Commission Theatre). Film: Come As You Are (2019). She is proudly represented by the incredible women of Paonessa Talent. She dedicates everything she does to her late father, Tony Walker.
Lauren has been one of the most produced playwrights in America since 2015 topping the list twice including 2019-20. She is a two-time winner of the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award for I and You and The Book of Will, the winner of the Lanford Wilson Award and the Otis Guernsey New Voices Award, a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and John Gassner Award for Playwriting, and a recipient of the Mellon Foundation’s Residency with Marin Theatre Company. She studied Southern Literature and Drama at Emory University, and Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School where she was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship. She co-authored the Miss Bennet plays with Margot Melcon. Her work is published at Playscripts (I and You, Exit Pursued By A Bear, The Taming, and Toil And Trouble), Dramatists Play Service (The Revolutionists, The Book of Will, Silent Sky, Bauer, Natural Shocks, The Wickhams, and Miss Bennet) and Samuel French (Emilie). Her picture book Dr Wonderful: Blast Off to the Moon is available from Two Lions/Amazon.
Margot is an artist, arts administrator and writer. She co-wrote Miss Bennet and The Wickhams with Lauren Gunderson, the first two parts of the Christmas at Pemberley trilogy. She was the Director of New Play Development at Marin Theatre Company for seven years, where she dramaturged over 30 productions – including six world premieres – and administered the company’s two annual new play prizes and commissioning program. She has developed plays with TheatreWorks, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Crowded Fire Theater, Shotgun Players, Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor, the Kennedy Center, the New Harmony Project, and The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. She is currently the Program Executive for Community Arts at the Zellerbach Family Foundation. Margot is a graduate of California State University, Chico and currently lives in San Francisco.
Jessica is a director of theater and an educator based in Chicago. Past Northlight credits include Into the Breeches!, The Book of Will, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Shining Lives: A Musical, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Inherit the Wind and Red Herring. At Steppenwolf, she has directed Sex with Strangers, Intimate Apparel, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, No Place Like Home, When the Messenger is Hot (also at 59 E 59th in NYC) and Sonia Flew. Other favorite projects: Richard III (Gift), In the Garden by Sarah Gmitter (Lookingglass), Buzzer by Tracy Scott Wilson (Goodman), Welcome Home Jenny Sutter (Next), As You Like It (Oregon Shakespeare), The Feast: an intimate Tempest (Chicago Shakespeare with Redmoon). She is Director of the Graduate Directing Program at Northwestern University.
Chicago: Goodman, Steppenwolf, Paramount Theater, Second City, Lyric Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Victory Gardens, The Hypocrites, American Theater Company, A Red Orchid, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Sideshow (artistic associate), First Floor Theater, Emerald City. NYC: The Cherry Lane, La Mama. Regional: Kennedy Center, Kirk Douglas Theatre, Children’s Theatre Company, Actors Theater of Louisville, Pig Iron Theatre Company, Huntington Theater Company, Wolftrap Opera, Minnesota Opera, Cincinnati Opera. Milwaukee Rep, Artist’s Rep, Theatre Squared, Adirondack Theater Festival. International: Stockholm Vocal Academy and Opera Siam in Bangkok. MFA, Northwestern. wbdesigns.carbonmade.com
Izumi is thrilled to be at Northlight again after designing The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley, Mother of the Maid, Mansfield Park, Faceless, The Mousetrap, Charm, and You Can’t Take It With You. Her recent design credits include A Doll’s House (Writers), Pride and Prejudice (Long Wharf, CT), and Verboten (House). Izumi is a resident artist at Albany Park Theater Project. She received Michael Maggio Emerging Designed Award, and her MFA in Stage Design from Northwestern University.
Christine A. Binder
Christine has designed for Writers, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Court, Lookingglass, Geva Theatre, and the Joffrey Ballet among others. Her opera designs include work at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Opera Theatre, San Diego Opera, New York City Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and Houston Grand Opera. Recent designs include: Mansfield Park (Northlight), A Doll’s House, Part 2 (Steppenwolf), and Onegin (Canadian Opera Company and Washington National Opera). Upcoming productions are: The Agitators (Alabama Shakespeare); The Last Match (Writers); Her Honor Mayor Jane Byrne, Lookingglass Alice (Lookingglass); and Onegin (Seiji Ozawa Festival/Matsumoto, Japan). Ms. Binder has been nominated for Joseph Jefferson Awards for her work with Court, Northlight, and Lookingglass. She is an Artistic Associate with Lookingglass and Head of Lighting at The Theatre School at DePaul University.
Kevin is thrilled be back at Northlight where previous credits include Cry It Out, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Miss Bennet, You Can’t Take it With You, The Lady with All the Answers, and Inherit the Wind. As a composer and sound designer he has received 10 Jeff Awards (20 nominations), and is a company member with The House Theatre. Locally he has worked with Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Lookingglass, Court, and many others. Regionally: The Pasadena Playhouse, The Southern Rep, Le Petite Theatre, The Seattle Rep, The Signature Theatre, The Olney Theatre Center, The Adrienne Arscht Center of Miami, and others. He is also a drummer.
Mary is honored to return to Northlight having designed props for Into the Breeches! She has created props/set dressing for dozens of shows and has received several Jeff nominations. Favorite projects ever: Rock ‘N’ Roll (Artistic Home) and Bakersfield Mist (TimeLine). Mary is an Artistic Affiliate with American Blues Theater and is a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY.
Production Stage Manager
Katie is pleased to return to Northlight after serving as Production Stage Manager on Landladies and Assistant Stage Manager on You Can’t Take It With You. Recent credits include Into the Woods (Writers); Hamilton: An American Musical (Chicago, Sub); Sorin: A Notre Dame Story (National Tour); If I Forget, Indecent, Lettie (Victory Gardens); The Realistic Joneses (Theater Wit & Shattered Globe); Southern Gothic (Windy City Playhouse); and Mother and Me (Geva Theater Center, Rochester, NY). She was resident production stage manager at American Theater Company from 2008-2018 where highlights included the world premieres of Disgraced (Pulitzer Prize), The Project(s), and columbinus (Chicago and ArtsEmerson, Boston). She is on the faculty at Loyola University Chicago and is a proud member of Actors Equity Association.
Assistant Stage Manager
Abigail is excited to work at Northlight Theatre for the first time. For the past 3 seasons, she has worked at Writers Theatre as an assistant stage manager. Other credits include Dreamgirls (Porchlight Music Theatre); The Humans (American Theater Company); Café Variations (SITI Company/ArtsEmerson); We Are Proud to Present a Presentation…, and Astro Boy and the God of Comics (Company One Theatre).
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OPEN CAPTIONING – The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley, December 7, at 2:30pm
This performance will be open captioned. All seats do not provide a clear view of the captions. Please indicate your need for captioning when purchasing your tickets by phone 847.673.6300 to be seated in the correct area, or use the “Purchase by Seat” option when buying online (select the LEFT section and look for the symbol indicating seats for open captioning).