This year’s theater debut, MV Studios’ take on Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility was a rousing success! This adaptation had dozens of small Mount Vernon-ized facets like music selection and color design that without being pointed out, an audience member might not recognize as deviations from the original play. Since the beginning of the school year, over 25 students accompanied by parents and teachers have participated in “Tech Tuesdays” every Tuesday afternoon to dedicate their time to prop-building. The crew painted each prop with a light and dry color scheme to deliberately draw more attention to the jewel-toned costumes. The floor was painted a dark malachite-style green that was perfect for distinguishing between indoor and outdoor spaces with special lighting directions. The music selection was tongue-in-cheek and uncanny without distracting from the play. Though the design took an enormous amount of time, the cast was able to nail down a play that was full of moving props, scenery projections, and fluid scenes.

William Nix, Class of 2023 played four different roles in this Fall Upper School Mainstage Play – Edwards Ferrars, Edward’s brother Robert Ferrars, Lady Middleton, and a Gossip. Even though he enjoyed all of his roles, William thought his role as Robert Ferrars was freeing and fun. “Robert only talked about cottages. He was obsessed with cottages. I’m not kidding, that’s all he talked about. I thought it was hilarious. But during every rehearsal and through each performance, I could feel myself purposely acting more and more ridiculous and it was getting great laughs out of the audience.”

The Tech Crew designed a contemporary tennis court-style stage with audience members lining both of the long opposite sides. This was the first time many of the cast members performed on such a stage. William believes the cast did an amazing job learning how to connect with audience members despite the challenge of having their backs turned to them half of the time. He was thankful for the help from MVXpert and Atlanta actor/director, Kathleen McManus, “She gave worthwhile advice on how to deport ourselves while our backs were turned to an audience, how people in the 19th-century acted, how to get your lines down quicker, and how to conduct yourself backstage. She was a great addition to the cast.”

Miller Woodall, Class of 2023 played Marianne Dashwood, one of the three Dashwood sisters. “When I heard we were doing Sense and Sensibility, I knew immediately that I wanted to play one of the Dashwood Sisters, more specifically Marianne. The most exciting part for Marianne was the big lift scene where Colonel Brandon played by Jesse Sherrill lifted me over his head. I literally trained in circus performing, so a stunt like that was no problem.” Miller has performed in 15 productions since she arrived at Mount Vernon in Grade 6 and is sad she doesn’t have many left before she graduates this year. “I feel a little better knowing I was able to be main characters with my two best friends Addie Vogt and Natalie Fiacco.

Natalie Fiacco played Mrs. Dashwood, Anne Steele, and Gossip. Initially, Natalie wanted to play Elinor because she is more comfortable with and typically plays reserved and nurturing characters. She read an Elinor monologue in her audition but during callbacks, Director Clark Taylor asked her to read for almost every role. “My favorite part about playing Mrs. Dashwood was that I had the opportunity to have a very fun on-stage relationship with the rest of my family. Frequently mother figures in period pieces are prim and proper, but Mrs. Dashwod has a lot of life in her. She was fun to explore and I think I was able to find a fun balance between maturity and motherliness and childish play and youthfulness.”

One of the cast’s favorite scenes was one of the last scenes in Act 2 on closing night. Even though it was a particularly funny scene, that wasn’t the reason they liked it. Many of their favorite parts of acting are improvising, so when a few of them had the opportunity to do it, they were ready. An important prop was forgotten backstage, so while the cast could not use it, they used a fallen window to enact a fight scene that left the audience laughing hysterically.

What’s up next for this group of thespians? A Senior Theatre Project in late January which will be a comic adaptation of The 39 Steps, a parody of Alfred Hitchcock films. With a cast of four seasoned senior actors: Addie Vogt, Natalie Fiacco, William Nix, and Miller Woodall preparing to play dozens of characters each along with a large crew for support, this production is sure to be a must-watch. It would be a crime to miss it…

Thank you to the fantastic Director and Production Designer Clark Taylor, Production and Technical Director Spencer Stephens, UC Visual and Performing Art Director Caroline Sandrew, Director of Maker, Design, and Engineer Jim Tiffin, and Tyler Dale for his help during Tech Tuesdays for supporting each actor and crew member in facilitating this incredible performance.

Check out pictures from the play and the MV Studios Instagram for a peek into the production process.

Click through the program below for the rest of the cast and crew.