‘Jane of all trades’ set for Austen festival
Penny Ashton is confessed ‘‘Jane trades’’.
The Sandringham comedienne and actress will perform three different shows at the New Zealand International Comedy Festival next month, host an Auckland Readers and Writers Festival gig, head off on a 30-date New Zealand tour, perform in Canada ‘‘and most excitingly’’ head to the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, England, in September.
Ashton says the partying will be taken down a notch or two down during the whopping 73-show trek across three countries.
‘‘You just have to be a bit elderly about ‘party-hard’. I just have to rest my voice, not drink very much. It’s really annoying because all the fun stuff screws your voice.’’
Ashton’s very distant relative Thomas Langlois Lefroy was rumoured to be Austen’s lover, so performing at the September festival will be special.
Creating and performing the family friendly musical Promise and Promiscuity, inspired by the literary icon’s works, was coincidence.
‘‘I don’t feel any great connection to her, however it is pretty awesome,’’ Ashton says.
Austen’s fans ‘‘ take it very seriously, so I will be under much scrutiny’’ at the festi- a of self
all val, she says. ‘‘ But it seems I do manage to entertain the rabid fans as much as those who know nothing.
‘‘Jane Austen has this really wide appeal, which is pleasing when you’re doing shows about it. You get the 70-year-old ladies, but then there are lots of 16, 17 and 18-year-old girls – and some guys,’’ Ashton says.
‘‘You don’t actually have to know Jane Austen to get the show. There are enough balls jokes to keep everyone entertained. There’s quite a lot of innuendo, ‘I do hope you have a spot on your dance card I can slot into’, things like that.’’
And there are plenty of Austen in-jokes for diehard fans.
Ashton performs in Promise and Promiscuity, Oliver Twisted: An Improvised Musical and Sex, Lies and Improvise in the NZ International Comedy Festival, and hosts Poetry Idol in the readers and writers’ festival in May.
Funny lady: Penny Ashton is embarking on a 73-show trek across three countries, winding up at the Jane Austen Festival in England in September. Go to aucklandcityharbour news.co.nz and click Latest Edition to watch a preview of Penny Ashton’s Promise and Promiscuity.