Jane Austen’s novels have seen a renaissance in recent years, with a flood of adaptations, some, like the Bridget Jones movies, only loosely based on the original. UNCG Theatre‘s production of Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” which opens on Valentine’s Day, stays faithful to the novel.

John Gulley, the theatre professor directing the play, says retaining the novel’s setting and time period is essential. For Gulley, it’s a matter of preserving the heart of Austen’s world, with its restrictive manners and mores.

“Austen has amazing insight into the human condition, but she obviously has particularly keen insight into the lives of women in Georgian England,” he says. “Life for women in 1811 was very challenging, of course, but especially for women like Austen’s heroine Elizabeth Bennett and her sisters. Their lack of wealth means that their future well-being is largely dependent on finding a husband of some means –they’re obviously not allowed to pursue professions as men are. Without a husband, a woman of little or no financial means had few options — and  could end up destitute. ‘Pride and Prejudice’, and all of Austen’s novels, beautifully and painfully capture the challenges of being a woman in Georgian England.”

While Austen often seems to write about mundane, almost trivial, daily happenings, Gulley says there is a subtle undercurrent of joy and pain “bubbling beneath the surface.” One part of daily life in Austen’s day that Gulley’s production brings to the forefront is dancing.

“A dance was one place where a boy could meet a girl or a girl could meet a boy,” he says. “We’ve tried to make the production almost like a dance itself as it moves from one scene to another.”

Other productions have relied on narration to advance the story, but Gulley has done away with narration to keep the action flowing seamlessly, relying more heavily on music. Lucas Varsano, a senior majoring in music composition, will provide live piano accompaniment — from a score he wrote himself — during scene transitions. The sets are on rolling platforms to keep pace with the music.

The timing with Valentine’s Day is a happy coincidence.

“‘Pride and Prejudice’ has one of the most beautiful love stories between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy,” Gulley says. “You can watch them both growing into the relationship.”

“Pride and Prejudice” runs Feb. 14-Feb. 22 in Taylor Theatre on campus. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Feb. 14, 15, 21, and 22; 2 p.m. Feb. 16 and 23; and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18, 19 and 20.

Tickets are $15 for adults; $10 for children, seniors, students, and groups of 10 or more; and $7 for UNCG students. Call 336-334-4392 or visit brownpapertickets.com.