Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company production picks up where ‘Pride & Prejudice’ ended

In the mood for a holiday love story – especially one for the slightly out-of-step? The Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s production of “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” may be just the show to warm your heart. This production, brought to life by a cast of memorable characters, is a humorous and touching illustration of the saying, “There’s a lid for every pot.”

Though it wasn’t written by Jane Austen, “Miss Bennet” takes up where “Pride and Prejudice” ended. A pair of modern-day playwrights penned the play that puts the spotlight on middle sister Mary.

If the play were set in modern-day Colorado instead of early 1800s England, Mary (Adeline Mann) likely would be a badge-wearing member of the Denver Tech Center brigade. She’s smart – and somehow charmingly unaware that her logical observations can be construed as condescending – analytical and more comfortable with maps and books than most people. Yet her logical brain can’t overrule her passions. She yearns for a mate, and to see the world she’s read so much about, but fears her personality and social standing means neither will happen.

Mary’s situation is even more starkly contrasted when she arrives for the holidays at her sister Elizabeth’s (Mackenzie Beyer) and husband Fitzwilliam Darcy’s (Rodney Lizcano) festive home. A pregnant sister Jane (Eva Balistrieri) and husband Charles Bingley (Jihad Milhem) — along with married sister Lydia (Shannon Altner) — are also spending Christmas there. With the exception of Lydia, who eventually confesses to an unhappy union with her absent husband, the house nearly simmers with sugary-sweet marital bliss.

Restrained by both logic and polite society, Mary pours her frustration into the pianoforte – with a gusto that impresses and mystifies her sisters, and never fails to amuse the audience.

Enter Lord Arthur de Bourgh (Ben Griffin), Mr. Darcy’s cousin. The clear lid to Mary’s pot, the two form a fast bond over the drawing room maps.

From here, the story dives down the twisting emotional turns typical of a Jane Austen story – with the characters’ hearts always taking the comedic lead.

Frustrated and love-deprived Lydia might have stolen this show if not for the volcanic Anne de Bourgh (Rachel Darden). Her sternness and demands are perfect foils to both Lydia’s over-the-top flirtatiousness and Mary’s no-nonsense honesty.

But as this satisfying, 1800s rom-com wraps up, even cousin Anne reveals her softer side and gains a warm welcome from her new extended family.

While there’s no surprise ending, the path to get there is filled with laughter and some nice emotional moments – all courtesy of a strong cast.

The show plays through Christmas Eve. To reserve tickets, call 303-444-7328. Use code LOVEBETC to get 50 percent off.