Pride and Prejudice. By Jane Austin. Directed by Kirsty Budding. Budding Theatre. Belconnen Theatre. June 18 to 22. Bookings from buddingtheatre.com.
Like a lot of people, Ella Horton's first experience with Pride and Prejudice was through Colin Firth.
But unlike most, her first experience involved Firth giving her a toy frog.
"My aunt, on my mother's side, actually lives on the same street as Colin Firth," Horton says.
"So technically the first time I encountered Pride and Prejudice was when Colin Firth bought me a stuffed toy frog for the baby shower my aunt threw me.
"Shortly after that when I was about four, Mum showed me the BBC series of Pride and Prejudice which of course has Colin Firth in it and she was like 'That's the man that gave you froggy'."
Now Horton is starring in Pride and Prejudice herself, as one of Budding Theatre's two Elizabeth Bennets.
The Canberra theatre company is showcasing the two sides of the Jane Austin classic.
While Horton and the rest of the main stage cast will play up the obvious romantic side of Pride and Prejudice, their younger cohort will look into the comedic side to the play in the youth performance.
"We've got the more romantic and - to coin a phrase - swoon-worthy moments in the adult cast just because we can," she says.
"But in the youth cast, for example, Mrs Bennet is played by a lovely boy by the name of Lochie [Hollow].
"So Kirsty has taken the opportunity to make the youth cast a lot more of a comedy and making the main stage a little bit more of a romance.
"If you are a Jane Austen fan it depends on what you like from Jane Austen as to which show you go see."
Elizabeth Bennet is a dream role for any young actress, and Horton - and for that matter, Lydia Milosavljevic, who plays the protagonist for the youth cast - is no different.
"I've always been a fan of historical pieces," Horton says.
"It is a romance, first and foremost, but it's also just really funny. I'm a sucker for some well-written British comedy.
"You can't not love Elizabeth a little bit, especially as a young girl when you're trying to find a role model.
"A headstrong girl who knows what she wants is always a good person to look up to."
It's Elizabeth Bennet's headstrong nature that is part of the reason Pride and Prejudice is still relevant today, Horton says, particular when it comes to her role in Mr Darcy's story arch.
It depends on what you like from Jane Austen as to which show you go see.- Ella Horton
"The story of Pride and Prejudice isn't about a terrible human being of a man eventually winning over a girl he happens to like," Horton says.
"It's about this man who was selfish and arrogant got told by a woman he cares very deeply about that he was selfish and arrogant and he looked at himself and went 'Maybe I am'.
"And then he decided that maybe he didn't want to be so selfish and arrogant.
"It's a really good message for people these days for anybody - not just guys - to have that moment of self-reflection because it takes her to quite harshly reject him, for him to self reflect on why.
"He comes to the conclusion that she maybe had a few good points.
"Rejection isn't always a bad thing.
"It's an opportunity for you to learn and grow."
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