On Valentine’s Day, Jane Austen is everywhere, from the stage to your tote bag

Pride and Prejudice

On Valentine’s Day, Jane Austen is everywhere, from the stage to your tote bag

Jim Beckerman
Feb 2, 2024

See Jane go. Go Jane, go.

Where don’t you see Jane Austen these days? Especially at Valentine’s Day — where the queen of regency romance peeps demurely from book covers, from the stage, from big screens and small. Somewhere between the Dick and Jane readers and “You’re Only Old Once!” we all encounter Jane Austen in some form — if only secondhand fashion, in the million comedies and romantic films that employ her bag of tricks.

“Everybody loves a rom com,” said director Carol Fisher, whose production of “Pride and Prejudice” plays Feb. 3 to 24 at the Bergen County Players in Oradell. “People love to see someone falling in love and wishing it would happen to them,” she said. “Or else remembering when it happened to them, or hoping it happens to them.”

Heads-up: This is the slightly loopy version, adapted by Kate Hamill, that first played The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in 2017. Eight actors play 22 parts. “It’s a crazy wacked-out production,” Fisher said. “Kind of Commedia dell’arte. People sometimes walk off the stage and come back as another person in a different costume. We have men playing women. We have classical traditional regency costumes, but they’re all wearing high-top sneakers.”

To set the mood: Mozart and Bach, but also Cyndi Lauper and The Beatles. And that mood is, Fisher says, somewhat raucous.

“People are running, falling on the floor, falling over couches, chasing each other around the stage,” said Fisher, a Teaneck resident. “It’s fun. To people who may not know Jane Austen — I’m sure there are a few out there — it’s a good beginning. And if you do know Jane Austen, it’s a wonderful way to experience her work.”

At bottom, it’s still the familiar story: of witty Elizabeth Bennet (Erin Arnold of West Orange) and haughty Mr. Darcy (Sean Buckley of Secaucus) who misunderstand their way to the altar, and the meddlesome Mrs. Bennet (Rachel Alt of Ridgefield) who wants her daughters married to someone — at any price.

“Mrs. Bennet is funny, she’s always saying ‘my nerves, my nerves,’ but these were all real issues,” Fisher said. “Women were vulnerable. If you couldn’t marry, you couldn’t inherit. If she doesn’t marry them off, they could all be on the street.”


“Pride and Prejudice,” Feb. 3 to Feb. 24, Bergen County Players, Little Firehouse Theatre, 298 Kinderkamack Road, Oradell. $23 to $25 depending on day. 201 261-4200 or bcplayers.org