Christmas at Pemberley trilogy concludes with delightful 'Georgiana and Kitty' at Northlight Theatre

“Georgiana and Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley” -- ★ ★ ★

Jane Austen has been very good to playwrights Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon. More specifically, Austen's beloved “Pride and Prejudice” characters have been good to the duo whose holiday-set “Christmas at Pemberley” trilogy concludes with the charming “Georgiana and Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley” premiering simultaneously at Skokie's Northlight Theatre and at theaters in Minnesota and California.

Twenty-first-century feminism underscores 18th-century romance in Gunderson and Melcon's well-written and gently humorous romantic comedy about two young women determined to be seen and most definitely heard.

Marti Lyons directs the sprightly paced premiere, which features a first-rate cast that includes the winsome twosome of Janyce Caraballo and Samantha Newcomb in the titular roles.

Like 2016's “Miss Bennett: Christmas at Pemberley” and 2019's “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley,” “Georgiana and Kitty” picks up several years after Austen's 1813 novel concludes. The play centers on best friends: introverted Georgiana Darcy (Caraballo) and gregarious Kitty Bennett (Newcomb). The youngest of their respective families, they are each other's champions, with the fiercely loyal Kitty encouraging gifted pianist Georgiana, despite society's reluctance to accept female artists. (Representation is among the issues the play addresses that still transcend centuries.)

Georgiana confides to Kitty that she has spent the better part of a year corresponding with Henry Gray (a delightfully diffident Erik Hellman), a fellow music aficionado as bashful as she is and for whom she has grown quite fond.

She invites him to spend the holidays at Pemberley with her overprotective, paternalistic brother Fitzwilliam (Yousof Sultani), his assured, perceptive wife, Elizabeth, (Amanda Drinkall) and her family, including her sisters: sweet-tempered Jane (Emma Jo Boyden), bookish Mary (a wry Andrea San Miguel) and self-absorbed Lydia (Preeti Thaker).

Henry is accompanied by his convivial, confident best friend, Thomas O'Brien (Nate Santana). Smitten with Kitty, Thomas wagers with her on how long it will take their friends to fall in love. However, an incriminating letter (“There's always a letter,” observes Darcy) upends Georgiana and Henry's budding romance and sends Georgiana away to London.

By the second act, which unfolds several years later, Georgiana has become a trailblazing artist, known for her interpretation of works by a popular new composer. Kitty promotes her concerts, and together they work to establish a music society for female artists and composers. At this point in “Georgiana and Kitty,” romance takes a back seat to the advancement of women in the arts, a subject that sparks a brief albeit interesting debate between the friends on the responsibility an artist has to her work and her responsibility to the greater artistic community.

Ultimately, “Georgiana and Kitty” could be described as a celebration of female artists — and the female producers, promoters and directors who support them — wrapped up in a romance. It could also be described the other way around. Either way, it marks an enjoyable conclusion to a trilogy that hopefully will become a holiday tradition.

• • •

Location: Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, (847) 673-6300,

Showtimes: 1 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 24. Also, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20; 2:30 p.m. Dec. 23. No 8 p.m. show Dec. 24

Tickets: $30-$89

Running time: About 2 hours, 10 minutes, with intermission

Parking: In the adjacent lot

Rating: For most audiences

COVID-19 precautions: Masks required for anyone sitting in rows A and B; masks recommended for everyone else

Georgiana (Janyce Caraballo) and Henry (Erik Hellman) fall in love over their shared passion for music in the charming "Georgiana and Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley," running through Dec. 24 at Northlight Theatre. Courtesy of Michael Brosilow
Northlight Theatre premieres "Georgiana and Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley," the last in Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon's trilogy of holiday romantic comedies inspired by Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice." Courtesy of Michael Brosilow
Andrea San Miguel, from left, Samantha Newcomb, Janyce Caraballo, Emma Jo Boyden and Amanda Drinkall star in Northlight Theatre's premiere of the Jane Austen-inspired "Georgiana and Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley." Courtesy of Michael Brosilow
Yousof Sultani plays Fitzwilliam Darcy and Amanda Drinkall plays his wife, Elizabeth Darcy, in "Georgiana and Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley," running through Dec. 24 at Skokie's Northlight Theatre. Courtesy of Michael Brosilow
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