Holiday Magic at the Firehall Theatre – Catherine Martin

I have always loved Jane Austen, because her stories take me away to beautiful places where everyone lives happily ever after. That’s why, when I heard that they were holding auditions for Miss Bennet: Christmas At Pemberley, a sequel to Pride & Prejudice, I knew I had to go – even though I was currently rehearsing for Blithe Spirit.

Blithe Spirit was a comedy, that showed just how complicated it can be when your ex-wife comes back to haunt you – literally. It was directed by the amazing Paula Worley, my good friend who first introduced me to the Firehall stage in 2014. So… I ended up auditioning for Miss Bennet dressed as Elvira, a cunning, outspoken, and somewhat evil ghost. Her silver wig, gothic makeup, heels, and slinky dress weren’t exactly befitting to the character of Jane Bingley, who I was cast as.

Catherine Martin, left, and Justine Benteau in Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley.

I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to get a part in such a wonderful performance, and have the chance to work with Valerie Russell, quite the celebrity amongst the Northumberland Players, for the first time. Rehearsals began, and so did a magical Christmas journey I will never forget.

Walking onto the set, it wasn’t difficult to imagine that we had actually been transported to Pemberley. It looked just like a regency-era home (amazing what Tim Russell was able to create with egg cartons)! Our gorgeous costumes were just as I had always imagined the clothing in Pride & Prejudice would be. The props, including a specially designed piano for Mary and a Christmas tree, brought the stage to life. Everything came together to make the perfect Christmas fantasy world!

The play went off without a hitch – unless you consider losing two husbands in one season a problem. In both Blithe Spirit Miss Bennet, the mister to my missus were unable to perform. Let’s just say, a girl starts to get concerned when she’s on her fourth husband of the year… Fortunately, anothor actor was able to step in, and our “Pemberley Family” was complete. 

A scene from Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley

I was lucky to act alongside such a fantastic cast. I have never before been in a play where the cast bonded so well! We had so much fun, and so many laughs together. With such a close group, it was simple to act as an affectionate family.

The greatest part of the production was the warmth that was shared between the cast, the crew, and the audience. My joy intensified when I heard reports of audience members saying “it looks like a Christmas card”, or read the play review by Selena Forsyth stating “you will be absolutely smitten with every member of this wild and wonderful cast and the characters they play”. Northumberland Players’ Miss Bennet: Christmas At Pemberley was holiday magic at the Firehall Theatre!