JASNA AGM Report, Day 4


We got to sleep in a little bit on Sunday, but still rose relatively early and found ourselves with a bit of free time before brunch, so we went across the street to the John Hancock building, the second-highest building in Chicago (for now, anyway…there are two in the works that will surpass it), and rode up to the observatory at the top. We were there at opening time and were able to go right up; there were no crowds and the view was magnificent. On one side, out over Lake Michigan; you can see to Indiana and Wisconsin from two other sides!

We went in to brunch and found Allison T. and her roommate Mary and sat with them, conveniently close to the podium, as we were all anticipation of the post-brunch event, more of which later. Much more. 🙂 Brunch was delicious and we enjoyed more good company and conversation. The winners of the Young Writers’ Workshop received their prizes and were recognized for their work. We heard presentations from the hosts of the next two AGMs in Philadelphia, featuring the Eastern Pennsylvania Not Ready for Prime Time Players, and Portland, Oregon (“Come to Portland and shop at Powell’s!” was an invitation enthusiastically received, as one might imagine). The AGM banner was passed from Chicago to Philadelphia, and JASNA president Marsha Huff declared the AGM officially closed.

But it wasn’t over.

We were excited all weekend about the post-brunch event featuring Lindsay Baker and Amanda Jacobs, the composers of the Broadway-bound musical adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Finally, other Janeites would get to see what I’ve been so excited about since I attended a reading of the play last summer. Amanda and Lindsay had been at the AGM all weekend and I kept running into them, which I love as they are so much fun they just make everyone around them automatically have fun, too! Arlene Crewdson moderated a discussion with Amanda and Lindsay, who discussed the history and development of the production. Lindsay, accompanied by Amanda sang two of the songs from the play, “Lizzy’s Song” and “Not Romantic” (both of which made your tar-hearted spinster Editrix weep a bit). What accomplished young ladies! They took some more questions and then the moment that everyone had been waiting for–Mr. Darcy sang. Colin Donnell, who will play Darcy in the production, sang “Fine Eyes,” and as I anticipated back when I interviewed producer Lori Bajorek, pretty much brought the house down. Janeites plotzing EVERYWHERE. (See that photo of Colin? He’s better-looking in person. Really. And has the most gorgeous voice.) He took some questions afterward and received much approbation when he said he had not read the book before he took the role, but has since read it…and re-read it…and re-read it. That got him about a thousand Janeite brownie points right there.

As I listened (and having learned from Amanda and Lindsay that the show has changed quite a bit since the reading I attended last summer), I decided that if I could get the time off from work, I will go to the one-night encore performance of the play in Rochester on October 21. So look for a report on AustenBlog! I think I’ll have a few other people coming with me, too! Everyone I talked to was really impressed by the songs and the whole process behind it.

We had to get to the airport and only had time to say goodbye to nearby friends; once I gathered my stuff, I looked up and poor Colin was absolutely surrounded by women getting autographs. Dude was MOBBED. I think it went pretty well. 🙂 (And I have no right to mock, as I was sitting literally at his feet as he sang. I have the excuse that, though my table was fairly close, my photos were coming out too dark. So I moved up. IT’S FOR AUSTENBLOG! Such sacrifices I make for you! Once I clear it with everyone, I’ll post them somewhere for everyone to see.)

Then it was off to the airport and home, and the end of another fabulous AGM, though as I type there are Janeites enjoying a dinner cruise on the Chicago River. I hope to see lots of friends next year in my hometown, Philadelphia, as we host the 2009 AGM, “Jane Austen’s Brothers and Sisters in the City of Brotherly Love.” We are really excited to host the AGM and think Janeites will love all the great history in our city.