RHINEBECK — “Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life,” declares Jean Brodie, an unconventional teacher at the Marcia Blaine School for Girls in 1930’s Edinburgh, Scotland. And this is exactly where she gets it wrong. Brodie is the protagonist of Muriel Sparks’ famous 1961 novel, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and the Jay Presson Allen’s 1969 stage adaptation of the same title.
The story follows Jean Brodie’s flamboyant attempts to infiltrate a traditional school curriculum with uncensored European art and culture. Eventually, her efforts become focused on four girls, “the crème de la crème” as she calls them. With the girls by her side, Brodie goes on various outings and discusses her plans for each of the girls. Meanwhile, she leads along two male faculty members, the straight-laced choirmaster Gordon Lowther, and the smitten-but-married artist Teddy Lloyd. These affairs ignite the imaginations of the girls, but also alert them to the power of free-choice in shaping their own lives.
As the girls mature into high school, they develop increasingly independent spirits, which conform less and less to the visions so instilled and insisted upon by Miss Jean Brodie. As her own personal life becomes more and more entangled, she herself grows dogmatic, even aligning her views with the authoritarian regimes gripping Spain and Italy. The costs are high as the story reaches its ultimate climax and denouement, giving the audience much to ponder after the final curtain call.
Presented as the third play in Rhinebeck Theatre Society’s 2018 “Season of Women,” (following highly acclaimed productions of Fun Home and A Doll’s House),The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie offers a new lense through which to discuss the independent and strong-minded women that are the drivers of change, and, ultimately, the power of a future generation to elevate our own ambitions and claim them for their own.
Veteran director Michael Juzwak and assistant director Tina Reilly shape this classic Tony Award Winning play with skill and vision into a production that is not to be missed. Says Juzwak, “The play resonates today because it reminds us to think for ourselves. When we get so much noise from mentors and teachers and social media and the news outlets, we need to remember to make decisions on our own. To listen to our inner voice and be who we are, not what someone else thinks we are.”
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie stars Elaine Young (Jean Brodie), Hannarose Manning (Sandy), Kate Mackie (Miss Mackay), and Ellen Honig (Sister Helena). Performances run September 21 - 30 (8pm Fri & Sat, 3pm Sun). Tickets are $24/$22 for seniors and students. Rhinebeck Theatre Society is proud to offer “Pay What You Will” Friday nights- cash at the door only. Advanced reserve seats for all shows are available at the box office (845-876-3080), or by visiting http://centerforperformingarts.org.