OREM — Although Lisa Zimmerman earned a master’s of music in vocal performance, she uses her vocal cords as the voice of reason when she plays Elinor Dashwood in “Sense and Sensibility,” Hale Center Theater Orem’s upcoming production.
“I attended a performing arts high school in Atlanta and had choir and theater classes, and ended up taking more of the musical route,” said Zimmerman, who’s recently starred in a handful of operas. “It’s a different experience when you’re going from an acting and singing performance to focusing on just one medium. It’s been really beneficial and a wonderful challenge to focus solely on acting through spoken text.”
Kicking off April 27, “Sense and Sensibility” is based on the beloved Jane Austen novel, and is adapted for stage by Kate Hamil.
Cleveland McKay Nicoll plays Edward (single cast), Elinor’s love interest, and said acting comes naturally for Zimmerman.
“I thought her degree was in acting at first,” Nicoll said. “Her musical background probably assists in the style of ‘Sense and Sensibility;’ the language is a tad bit heightened as is opera. Operas are usually period pieces so she understands the style and culture of those times. Her dialect is great; her acting is grounded and connected. She’s present with you on stage.”
The story focuses on Elinor and her sister Marianne as they traverse the cultural and financial quirks of Georgian England following the death of their father.
“I have always been drawn to Elinor,” Zimmerman (M/W/F cast) said. “She’s the rock of her family. She has this ability to bring calm, logic and a plan to whatever situation they’re put in, and everyone relies on her because of those attributes.”
On the other hand, Marianne is more impulsive and in tune to emotions, Zimmerman explained.
“Marianne feels things to their fullest, whether or not that’s to her benefit. Elinor is not without feeling, but she gives more importance to the thinking than the feeling,” Zimmerman said. “Like the title, Elinor is the sense and Marianne is the sensibility. There is such a disparity between their natures; they both draw each other toward a more-mellow version of themselves — a good yin and yang.”
Nicoll said he’s looking forward to playing Edward, who he describes as an introverted peacekeeper. His previous roles, he explained, have been more quirky and over the top.
Even though the show is set more than 200 years ago, this adaptation includes modern touches, which Nicoll thinks will pleasantly surprise the audience.
“We’re not just doing a Jane Austen show where two characters sit on stage and talk for hours,” he said. “I would categorize this as a movement piece, because the actors are moving around and everything is on wheels. It has a nice, modern layering on top of it; the music is in the style of the period but it’s contemporary.
“I don’t think we’re changing it,” he added, “just presenting it in a new way and figuring out how to do that while keeping the story intact.”Comment on this story
Zimmerman added that the modern views that influence the show, like reflections on women in society, make it comedic. Through this modern lens, “Sense and Sensibility” becomes an even stronger commentary on that time period's social mores.
“It really takes elements of the characters’ personalities to the extreme,” Zimmerman said, “creating scenarios I didn’t initially think about when I watched the movie or read the book.”
If you go …
What: “Sense and Sensibility”
Where: Hale Center Theater Orem, 225 W. 400 North, Orem
When: April 27-June 2, 7:30 p.m.; see website for Saturday matinee times.
How much: $18-$24 for general admission, $14-$18 for children