Trish Clark, the emotional voice of reason behind SummerFest, is entirely captivating once she makes her entrance as Mrs. Bennett, mother of Elizabeth, played masterfully by daughter Ellie. Elizabeth of course is the centerpiece of Jane Austen's classic, and in Jon Jory's delightful adaptation, her pivotal character is onstage nearly the entire play, but Ellie handles it all with the polish and shine of a true professional as she and Trish seal their familial and dramatic onstage bond - it's intriguing, it's fun, it's a moment that any Mom or daughter would love to be a part of, and it's nice to know the moment is not lost on either one of them.
He's also worked with Trish in several productions, "and, like her daughter, she's a treat. She brings such deep need and emotion to a role, but always has her sense of humor alongside it. She plays the over-wrought and beleaguered mother so well, and I suppose we can thank Ellie for that, heheh. One of my favorite things about Trish is the unique melody of her voice. It's so rich and musical, it's opera without singing. She could read a cereal box, and I could listen to it for hours on end."
Ellie Clark is radiant as Elizabeth, and it's apparent she is enjoying the role and shares that with the audience when she's on stage. She explains her fondness for the role. "I think it was several years ago I first read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It was an attempt to familiarize myself with more classics, not out of any desire for reading that book in particular. I have, since then, read the book twice more, seen the movie more times than I care to mention and every time am moved in a profound way by the story. Jane Austen is timeless and was so forward thinking for her time it is almost hard to comprehend. When it was announced that SummerFest was doing the show, I knew I had to fly down for the auditions. To have the opportunity to play what some consider the most well known British heroine of all times would be quite frightening and invigorating, but I knew I had to audition. I don’t use the word heroine lightly in the previous sentence either. She is the true definition of a heroine: a woman of distinguished courage or ability, admired for her brave deeds and noble qualities. Just in reading with Tom in the audition room it felt like my blood was boiling, my heart was racing and my face was so flushed it was a tad embarrassing. It just made me want it that much more. Sully directing was the whip cream, chocolate and cherry on top."
Ellie describes her character as "passionate, compassionate, nurturing, witty, full of pride, very playful. What is there not to like? There is nothing to dislike. She fights for what she thinks is right and is open to the revelation of being wrong. Allowing that revelation might be challenging because she is a tough little nut to crack."
As for working with her Mother, she's embracing the moment. "The last time I worked with my mom was in Bo List’s “Dracula…..a variation” which we took to the Fringe in Edinburgh. The rehearsal process was incredibly speedy. I have watched my mom rehearse and work as an actress since I was a little girl. She still amazes me…on and off the stage. I think people in the room feed off her incredible energy. She brings so much to her work. It feels familiar on stage with her. It’s where we are both meant to be. My face lights up every time I watch her work."
In addition to her Pride and Prejudice role, she's also an instructor at KCTC, and points out that she, too, is enriched by her students. "I learn so much every day by teaching. It takes an immense amount of energy to creatively inspire young people, especially 40 of them, and I think people don’t understand that fully unless they have experienced it. There are too many funny and inspiring stories to think of just one. It inspired me this year that Avery and Thea Wigglesworth, Taylor Eldred and Nick Vannoy whom I share the SummerFest stage with this summer, came to my class every morning to learn. They gave me the energy to keep going. They let me challenge them and I learned so much from watching them work."
"Since I was a little girl, this festival has been a part of my life. I was an apprentice while the festival was happening at Woodland Park and Joe Ferrell would rehearse with his cast in our back yard to have my mama in the cast, I was in high school when my mom was artistic director during the Lexington Shakespeare Festival and now the Institute/Conservatory, KCTC, with Summerfest has become my baby. Working with my mom putting together KCTC every summer is what I look forward to all year. The artists we have at our fingertips in this community always amazes me. Every time there is a show that suits me during Summerfest I start itching to audition and get on that stage. I think, maybe, it’s in my blood:)
Does she have a hidden talent? "I do have a secret talent....but that is all I can say," she laughs.
As for her mother, Trish is feeling the magic as well, and is riding the wave of enthusiasm as both an actor and as director of KCTC and SummerFest. She basks in the glow of watching her students come full circle and is loving every moment onstage with her daughter, who carries the role of Elizabeth as if she were born to do it. "What I can say about Ellie is that she has a perserverance and work ethic that I admire. Her journey as an actress has not been easy, even though she has been brought up in an environment that is all things theatre. Watching her grow into herself is the most facinating observation! We have desired to work together for a long time, but perhaps the universe knew better than we when that time was right, because this experience has been pretty perfect. And I am not being the 'mom.' In fact, I only have to worry about myself and the job I need to be doing as Mrs. Bennett. Never about what Ellie needs to be doing as Elizabeth. What I can say is that I have never been so impressed with an actor in the room like I have been with her. It is her work ethic that is so notable. She keeps her focus on the work, she is prepared, she is never at less than 100%. I am honored to be in the room with her and I am honored to have all my former students see her in this process."
So, does Trish have a Secret Talent? "Really, my life is an open book! There are no secrets. That reveals a lot about how simple I am, huh? I have to say I have very few talents, but the few I own, I am very grateful to have. My favorite ability is the capacity for love and patience. Even though I get anxious about pleasing people and wanting harmony to be established with all things, I can't really hold a grudge or be "warned" about some negative energy. My favorite element of being an actor is having the opportunity to see through the eyes of other perspectives, and investigating how people arrive at making choices. It saddens me tremendously that their are people who feel it their job to judge and determine the choices of other lives. As if they are appointed by...?"
If you are Mom, if you are a daughter, if you have a Mom or a daughter, or if you just love good theatre, you will not want to miss this show. It's such a treat, the cast Sully White has assembled is excellent, and Jon Jory's adaptation of Jane Austen's masterwork is sure be brilliant under the stars at the Arboretum.
SummerFest continues a 29-year tradition of outdoor summer theatre at The Arboretum: State Botanical Garden in Lexington, KY. This year's season includes:
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE (July 7-11)
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Ave Lawyer
PRIDE & PREJUDICE (July 14-18)
adapted by Jon Jory
Directed by Sullivan Canaday White
RENT, THE MUSICAL (July 21-25)
Book, Music and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson
Directed & Choreographed by Tracey Bonner
Music Direction by Mark Calkins
Sullivan Canaday White (2008’s The Lord of the Flies) returns to SummerFest to direct a critically praised adaptation of one of the most beloved novels of our time, Pride And Prejudice. The adaptation is written by Jon Jory, well known in Kentucky as the celebrated, former, longtime Artistic Director at Actors Theatre of Louisville.
Pride And Prejudice will play July 14 through July 18, 2010.
Pride And Prejudice Cast Includes:
Mrs. Bennet - Trish Clark
Mr. Bennet - Walter Tunis
Elizabeth Bennet - Ellie Clark
Jane Bennet - Holly Brady
Mary Bennet - Annie Barbera
Kitty Bennet- Erin Cutler
Lydia Barret/Georgiana - Avery Wigglesworth
Mr. Darcy - Tom Phillips
Charlotte - Sarah Levy
William Lucas/Mr. Collins/Mr. Gardner -Tim Hull
Miss Bingley/Mrs. Gardiner - Vanessa Becker
Lady Catherine - Stephanie Peniston
George Wickham - Drew Davidson
SummerFest concludes with the show that transformed the definition of musical theatre, rocked a generation and changed Broadway forever, Jonathan Larson’s blockbuster musical, RENT, playing July 21 though July 25, 2010.
Tracey Bonner, no stranger to the Lexington musical theatre scene, makes her SummerFest directing debut with this Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning musical.
RENT Cast Includes:
Mimi Márquez -Jessica Lucas
Roger Davis - John Dawson
Mark Cohen - Chip Becker
Maureen Johnson - Caroline Griffeth
Angel Dumott Schunard - Emanuel Williams
Tom Collins - Nick Vannoy
Joanne Jefferson - Sheronda Piersall
Benjamin 'Benny' Coffin III - Thomas Gibbs
Seasons Of Love Soloist - Andrea Johnson
The Ensemble Includes:
Wood Van Meter
All SummerFest 2010 performances will begin nightly at 8:45 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays, at the Arboretum: State Botanical Garden of Kentucky on Alumni Drive. SummerFest tickets will go on sale in June 2010 and will once again feature very affordable single ticket prices of $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. Season Passes to see all three shows will also be available at $25 for adults and $12 for kids.
For more information on SummerFest, or the Conservatory programming, please visit them the web at www.kctcsummerfest.com.