Nine characters in one-woman show
Penny Ashton plays the nine characters in her one-woman show Promise and Promiscuity which opens at Centrepoint Theatre on September 12.
Ashton hopes those who dismissed author Jane Austen’s works (compulsory reading at school) as dry will discover the genius of the woman who inspired her to write Promise and Promiscuity.
“She is actually hilarious,” says the comedienne.
After doing a variety of Jane Austen shows for numerous years her uncle “delightfully brought my attention to my famous fifth great-uncle Thomas Langlois Lefroy”.
Lefroy was rumoured to be Austen’s flirtation.
Ashton found Jane Austen’s grave in Winchester and said the simple epitaph “the merits of her sharp mind” left her feeling sad.
Her new musical stage show tackles all of Austen’s characters with song, dance, and by her own admission, appalling cross-stitching.
“I tried to pull out her best dialogue. “There are 33 quotes and the people who are purists will like them,” she says.
She hears their murmurings when they recognise Austen’s quotes.
To prepare for her shows, she workshopped with the director to hone the script for two or three months, learned it, held rehearsals, and then worked with Chicago-based composer Robbie Ellis on the Beethoven musical score.
Ashton has been self-employed for 20 years and from May 2017 to June this year she performed 130 shows in 55 towns across five countries.
“It’s awesome to turn your job into travel.”
Poet, social commentator, journalist, wedding celebrant and voice-over work are in Ashton’s repertoire.
She lists the
Big Bang Theory), Carole Burnett, in Annie, her dance teachers, Emma Thompson’s take on Austen, Miranda Richardson as Queenie in Blackadder and Shirley McClaine. ■ Promise and Promiscuity, Centrepoint Theatre, 280 Church St, September 12-23, Tuesday and Wednesday 6.30pm, ThursdaySaturday 7.30pm; Sunday 4pm, bookings: centrepoint.co.nz/shows/promise-andpromiscuity 06 354-5740