Arts & Culture

Timeless tale

By Lorraine Graves

Published 3:42 PST, Thu November 8, 2018

Dad dies and the comfortable life you have known as a family is over. You have to move—a story we’ve all heard before. A single mom now has to take care of the offspring and find a way to ensure their futures.

What are they willing to give up to have a more comfortable life again?That’s the crux of Exit 22 Company Productions’ Sense and Sensibility opening Nov. 16 in North Vancouver.

Two Richmond actors, Dennis Virshilas and Mila Melandidis, feature in this production on the Capilano University Campus. Both are final year students in the Acting for Stage and Screen (ASAS) program at Cap U.

Virshilas who plays Edward Ferrars went to Daniel Woodward Elementary and graduated from Matthew McNair Secondary in 2016 while Melanidis attended Westwind Elementary and graduated the same year from R.A. McMath Secondary in Steveston. She plays Fanny Dashwood, a wealthier and social-climbing aunt to the newly-impoverished offspring.

“Fanny is a real fun character to play around with because she is so conniving and manipulative. Her main motive is to gain power and money and control. She’s all about whether you have status or not,” says Melanidis.

It’s all a family affair, says Virshilas, “Edward is actually Fanny’s brother and Edward doesn’t really care as much for money or status or power. He’s a simple guy. He’s awkward and shy but he’s extremely loyal and keeps to his work and has honour.”

More than just the machinations of a fallen family two hundred years ago, Sense and Sensibility speaks to every one who has ever lost or who has ever loved.

“Jane Austen was so revolutionary at the time for giving a voice to people with low status, creating these characters who are so varied in the sense of walks of life and how people have treated them,” says Melanidis, “If you come to this show, no matter who you are, there will be someone you can connect with.”

The two actors view the play differently.

“The play is a lot about money and how people feel about it. The whole play is in the title. It’s sense versus sensibility. Do you risk your financial standing from falling in love with someone or seek someone rich?” says Virshilas

Melanidis says, “I think that money, wealth, power and status definitely are a theme in the telling of the story but the story is more about the two Dashwood sisters and their relationship with one another and about family. It’s definitely about family and love.”

“Its about people having to struggle with loyalty. There are some comedic moments and some heat-breaking moments and some really beautiful moments as well,” Melanidis says.

She speaks of the lavishly-painted sets and the costumes, “They are all period. There are some intricate costumes.”

“If you come to this show, no matter who you are, there will be someone you can connect with.”

Before we end the interview, they each ask to make mention of their Richmond roots.

Virshilas says, “I really appreciate the McNair theatre program for supporting me throughout high school and recommending this program.” He then mentions with gratitude his teachers Marco Soriano and Theresa Watts at McNair.

Melanidis also speaks highly of her high school years. "McMath doesn't have a huge theatre program but the drama department was my habitat, where I spent most of my time." She goes on to thank her teachers, Annie Rough and Joel Garner.

But back to the play at hand, what will people see?

“It’s Jane Austen. It’s a love story,” Melanidis says with a smile.

Sense and Sensibility plays Nov. 15 to 24 at The BlueShore Financial Centre for the Performing Arts(2055 Purcell Way, North Vancouver)

For tickets clickor phone: 604-990-7810.

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