This week in theater: Guthrie's 'Pride and Prejudice' with Kartheiser continues

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The Guthrie���s staging of the Jane Austen classic “

Pride and Prejudice”

officially premiered Friday in Minneapolis and begins its first formal week Tuesday in Minneapolis.

The production -- which celebrates the 200th anniversary of Austen's novel -- stars Apple Valley native Vincent Kartheiser as Mr. Darcy, who

returns home to the Guthrie stage

nearly 27 years after his debut at the famed theater as Tiny Tim in “A Christmas Carol.”

Ashley Rose Montondo

-- a 2011 graduate of the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program -- also stars as Elizabeth Bennet in her first major role on the world stage.

Star Tribune

theater critic Graydon Royce calls artistic director Joe Dowling's staging of the play "briskly paced" and "energetic."Praising Kartheiser's performance, Royce writes that the "Mad Men" star "makes his presence most evident with hauteur and conceit — characteristics that make him easily definable as mere mortal rather than Austen’s enigmatic, brooding figure of privilege and assumed arrogance."

The critic does have some reservations about Kartheiser's performance, although very minor."He doesn’t feel completely comfortable in Darcy’s cloak of mystery, although Kartheiser does loosen as Darcy warms to Elizabeth with a nice humor and natural charm," Royce writes.

Dominic P. Papatola's review of "Pride and Prejudice" for the

Pioneer Press

is a bit more mixed.Explaining how Austen's novel can portrayed "as a protofeminist manifesto, a comedy of manners or a social critique of the Regency period of British history," Papatola says "Dowling opts for a lovely-but-shallow staging with no perspective, no stakes and little resonance."

Kartheiser impressed the critic, who says the "actor actually looks comfortable on stage and plays well within the ensemble," unlike "so many screen stars who take the summer to slum in legitimate theatre."Papatola was also happy that Kartheiser left his "Mad Men" persona behind."Resisting the temptation to borrow any of the jerkish mannerisms of his TV persona Pete Campbell, Kartheiser instead carves out a Mr. Darcy who is differently disagreeable in the first half, then slowly allows the glacier of the character's superiority to melt in the glow of the woman he loves," Papatola says.

The show runs through Aug. 31.

Also continuing its run this week is the Children’s Theater Company production of

“If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,”

a stage adaptation of Laura Joffe Numeroff’s best-selling children’s book.

Pioneer Press

contributing critic Renee Valois writes, “Director Peter C. Brosius keeps the pace mostly manic, as befits a show aimed at very young children … There’s no time for anyone to get bored.”

“If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” plays through July 21.

Also continuing this week is the Guthrie Theater’s latest production,

“Clybourne Park”

at the venue’s McGuire Proscenium stage in Minneapolis.

“Clybourne Park” — which in 2012 earned playwright

Bruce Norris

a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for Best Play — is a satiric comedy that deals with race and class in response to Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun.”

Chris Hewitt of the

Pioneer Press

likens “Clybourne Park” to an orchestra performance, saying it it’s “a work of art where the ‘conductor,’ director Lisa Peterson, and the players are so united in their efforts that we hardly notice the dozens of talents who contributed to the production.”

The play runs through Aug. 4.

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