Get lost in Austen at the Rothes Halls

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A celebration of one of the greatest British Writers arrives in Glenrothes next week.

Rob Winlow’s new musical based on the life and loves of Jane Austen reveals the woman behind the words, and it tours the UK this spring.

Following the bicentennial of her death, this is a portrait of an icon as a human being.

Austen the Musical investigates the life of an author struggling as much with affairs of the heart as with ambitions for her art.

Comical, tragic and enchanting, Austen is a musical that explores the challenges a female novelist faces in patriarchal Georgian England.

As Jane struggles to be published, she experiences the pressures, pleasures, and pitfalls of courtship with multiple suitors.

The story remains resonant and poignant in these turbulent times as the fight for gender equality continues.

“Whilst there have been numerous plays and musicals of Jane Austen’s novels there have been very few about her own life,” writer Rob Winlow explains, talking about where the inspiration of the play came from.

“As far as we’re aware there have been no musicals about Jane’s romances.

“The starting point for the show or the question it asks and tries to answer is how was Jane able to write so convincingly about affairs of the heart when she never married and on the face of it had no significant romantic relationships herself?

“A musical, as opposed to a play, gives us the opportunity to express Jane’s feelings and emotions by expressing the inner voice in song,” he continued.

“The musical style is contemporary rather than Georgian so we have a greater flexibility to create the necessary moods and passions throughout the story. These range from joy to sorrow to hilarity.”

With more than ten shows under their belt, the cast have wowed audiences across England with the musical.

“Auditions for the show were held in September 2017 in York where we were able to cast Edith Kirkwood as Jane and Jenni Lea Jones as Mrs Austen,” Rob continued.

“We had to look further afield for our romantic lead but eventually found Thomas J Hewitt which still left us with no Mr Austen.

“However, on the first day of rehearsals who should be walking by but Oliver J Brooke our previous Mr Austen who was available to join the tour up until the New Year.

“Since then we have managed to replace him with Adam Grayson.

“The music and the songs, by myself and arranged by Edward Winlow, range from the excitement of new found love, the comedic advances of a lecherous parson, beautiful four part harmonies and the depths of despair and grief of bereavement.

“We hope that we shine a light on the little known facts of Jane’s life and in particular the lesser know details of her own relationships.

“We have found that our audiences do cry a little and laugh a lot,” Rob went on. “One surprising by-product of coming to see the show has been that it inspires people to read Jane’s novels again or even for the first time. So whilst mostly biographical and entertaining there seems to be an educational element or spin off to the show as well.

Austen the Musical takes to the stage at the Rothes Halls on Wednesday, February 28, at 7.30pm.

For tickets, visit www.onfife.com/venues/rothes-halls or call 01592 611101.