Lauren Thompson thought she was pretty good at speaking English.
But she’s not used to pronouncing it this way.
“I’ve never had to speak such ‘proper’ English before, so that’s exciting,” said Thompson, 17, a Franklin Regional senior and one of the leads in the FR Thespian Club’s spring production of “Pride and Prejudice,” adapted from the 1813 Jane Austen novel.
Most of Thompson’s fellow leads said mastering British dialect and working it seamlessly into the dialogue has been the biggest challenge in prepping for the show, which opens May 3 at the Franklin Regional Senior High School Auditorium.
Thompson said she started her dialect research by watching YouTube videos.
“It’s sort of a middle-class London accent,” she said. “It’s taking a while and I’m still struggling a little bit with it.”
Fellow senior Charlie Hough, 18, agreed.
“It’s hit or miss,” he said. “Not many of us have done (those accents), and the characters are sort of a mix of working-class accents and then the more posh accents.”
Hough plays the aloof Mr. Darcy. He said his other challenge is generating the proper sympathy from the audience.
“He’s a rich nobleman, and he starts the show thinking he’s better than anyone else — thus the ‘Pride and Prejudice’ in the title — and people who watch the movie have an instant dislike for him,” Hough said. “You have to find little moments to endear him to the audience so they can come around to his side by the end.”
The story concerns the five daughters of Mr. Bennet, head of the Longbourn estate. Bennet is seeking to find a suitably wealthy man as a husband for at least one daughter.
Austen’s novel explores the importance of marrying for love rather than money, despite the social pressure for parents to make a “good match” for their daughters.
That exploration largely comes through protagonist Elizabeth Bennet, played by senior Claire Pamerleau.
“I haven’t played a character similar to myself for a while,” said Pamerleau, 17, who like Hough and Thompson is preparing for her final time on the Franklin Regional stage.
“The people and the clubs really make it worthwhile,” she said. “There’s something about performing a piece of art that you don’t get in a lot of other places.”
Senior Megan Swift, who will play Elizabeth’s older sister, Jane, said she has learned “a huge deal since I was a freshman.”
“I’m a lot more comfortable onstage,” she said. “It’s just a really exciting part of the year for me when I get to perform.”
“Pride and Prejudice” runs May 3-5 at the high-school auditorium, 3210 School Road in Murrysville.