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Jane Austen’s ‘Sense and Sensibility’ comes to Bay Area stage

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Sister act: Jennifer Le Blanc

TheatreWorks founding director Robert Kelley has a theory why Jane Austen’s works remain so popular two centuries after she wrote them.

“She was what we might call one of the early feminist writers. It’s fascinating to see what it was like for her,” says Kelley, who directed TheatreWorks’ acclaimed production of Austen’s “Emma” and is now at the helm of the American premiere of the stage version of “Sense and Sensibility” at the Center for the Performing Arts in Mountain View.

He adds, “Austen is one of the great writers of romantic comedy because she understands the exhilarating and exasperating of falling in love.”

Written by British playwrights Andy Graham and Roger Parsley, who previously adapted “Brideshead Revisited” and “Brave New World,” the play, of course, follows the trials and tribulations of sisters Elinor and Marianne as they try to make sense of the world around them.

The show has musical elements, too. Kelley has incorporated, into the action and between scenes, songs straight from volumes of personal music books found in Austen’s home, including some songs that were Austen’s obvious favorites.

The play features Katie Fabel as Marianne and Jennifer Le Blanc as Elinor, who not only look alike, but have “remarkable chemistry,” says Kelley, who adds, “We found the perfect men for them to encounter.”

“Sense and Sensibility” draws similarities to Austen’s own life in a number of ways. Elinor and Marianne are four years apart — just like Jane and her sister Cassandra — and Marianne, like Austen, plays piano.

If you go

Sense and Sensibility

Presented by TheatreWorks

Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays, closes  Sept. 18
Tickets: $19 to $69
Contact: (650) 463-1960; www.theatreworks.org

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