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Austen’s classic gets a tuneful boost in ‘Pride & Prejudice — The Musical’

EAGLE MOUNTAIN — What could make Mr. Darcy, one of literature’s most perfectly imperfect heart-throbs, even more appealing?

How about if he sang?

The West Side Theatre Company hopes audiences’ hearts will beat deeper for Darcy and crew when it presents “Pride & Prejudice — The Musical” March 8-12.

“Composer and lyricist Lawrence Rush has written some really beautiful pieces that complement (Jane) Austen’s work,” said David Peterson, who plays Darcy. “Several of the songs offer some great comedic moments as well. It’s also exciting since much of the audience will have never heard this music before. I hope this will add a refreshing twist to a well-known story.”

The various musical numbers add different elements to the story, said Sydney Carlson, who steps into the role of Elizabeth Bennet.

“Some of the best songs add levity and a sense of humor to the show that is really refreshing and fun,” she said. “I think Elizabeth’s songs help the audience see her grow as a character. Her songs and the way she views the world are drastically different from the first song to the finale.”

“Pride & Prejudice — The Musical” has its sights set on the Great White Way, and the West Side Theatre’s performances are some of the first full productions of it.

Rush, who also wrote the book, flew from New York City to Utah for the final rehearsals.

“This was certainly a surreal experience for me, and Lawrence was so supportive and kind,” Peterson said.

Peterson said he is thrilled to be playing Darcy and is excited for his four daughters to see the production.

“Darcy is certainly proud given the wealth and status in his life, but he is also honest and loyal — to a fault, at times — and greatly cherishes his closest relationships,” he said. “My favorite part about portraying Darcy is experiencing this character's arc. He truly believes he understands how the world should operate, and then along comes this woman who challenges all his preconceived notions.”

It is universally acknowledged, however, that Darcy isn’t the story's only strong-willed character. Carlson said she enjoys portraying Elizabeth and all her complexities.

“One of my favorite parts is when Elizabeth rejects Darcy’s first proposal. David and I have become good friends, and I enjoy getting to abuse him in that scene for sure,” she joked. “But immediately after, Darcy explains his side to the story and Elizabeth is left to reconcile her feelings with the facts. All this leads to my favorite song in the show when Elizabeth has to face that she may not, in fact, know everything. It’s a roller coaster of emotions, which makes it that much more fun to play.”

Carlson said she got hooked on the story when she was 12 and her mom took her to see the 2005 film version.

“I started reading the book, I got ahold of the miniseries and just couldn't get enough of the characters and the story,” she said. “It’s a timeless classic, and I think this show does a great job of capturing what people love about this story. Overall, I hope people are pleasantly surprised with the heart and humor that this show has. It’s a sweet and sincere portrayal.”

There’s so much more to the story than romance, Peterson added.

“This story focuses on family, social expectations and friendship,” he said. “There is such a variety of characters and circumstances, everyone can relate to some part. What I love most is that it reminds you that you can’t always trust a first impression.”

If you go …

What: “Pride & Prejudice — The Musical”

Where: Garden Near the Green, 3700 E. Campus Dr. #100, Eagle Mountain

When: March 8-10 and 12, 7:30 p.m. Matinee March 10 at 2:30 p.m. in which audience members are welcome to dress in Regency attire.

How much: $10-$12