KET’s ‘Fabby Abbey Premiere Party’ kicks off the new season of ‘Downton Abbey’
Nearly 400 people packed the Bomhard Theatre at the Kentucky Center for a sneak preview of Season 3 of the wildly popular PBS hit “Downton Abbey” last night.
The season kicks off officially on Sun., Jan. 6 at 9 p.m. on Kentucky Educational Television (KET), but guests at the free, ticketed showing were treated to preview of Episode 1 of the new season.
The premiere was preceded by the KET fundraiser, the “Fabby Abbey Premiere Party.”
KET supporters, Downton fans, and invited guests – including members of the Jane Austen Society of Louisville and local actors and actresses – gathered, many in Downton-inspired attire, for cocktails and period hors d’oeuvres.
“Celebrity” judges (their words, not mine) – Erin Keane of WFPL, Bethany Morse of Oldham Country Libraries; Jackie Hayes, formerly of WAVE and currently at Norton Healthcare, and I – awarded prizes to the most creative and authentic period costumes.
The individual winner was Charlotte Campbell (even her name sounds Downton-y). Campbell, a U of L student and actress who appeared in the “Stephen Foster Story” in Bardstown last summer, wore a gorgeous teal and black dress that she made herself from a sari.
The couple’s award went to John and Laura Whitty. She was dressed in a stately Cora-esque dress and hat; he sported livery including riding boots and a top hat.
Episode 1 of Season 3, which first aired in England back in September of 2012, didn’t disappoint.
Stand up and cheer moments abounded (although the crowd was far too genteel for that sort of thing). Looming financial ruin. Redeemed characters. Heightened intrigue. Weddings. Pregnancies. Druggings. Work-stoppages.
All the makings of the delicious, addictive soap opera that “Downton Abbey” has become.
And for anyone wishing there were more Dowager Countess in every episode, we now have Shirley MacLaine as Cora’s hotsy-totsy American mother, Martha Levinson, doubling the dry one-liners.
Martha is accompanied to Downton for Mary’s wedding by her inexperienced, teenaged lady’s maid, Miss Reed, played by newcomer Lucille Sharpe of Lexington.
In a pre-recorded interview, Sharpe said that her mother made her watch “Downton Abbey” when she was home from London last Christmas; three weeks later Julian Fellowes cast her as Miss Reed.
From the PBS summary of Season 3, Episode 1 (no spoilers!):
The war is over, but intrigue, crisis, romance, and change still grip the beloved estate in the thrilling new season of “Downton Abbey.” The third season of “Downton Abbey” commences with the family and staff preparing for Mary and Matthew’s wedding; and Cora’s mother (Shirley MacLaine) arriving from the U.S. Robert, meanwhile, receives bad news about an investment.
Season 4 begins filming soon, and creator and writer Julian Fellowes is considering a prequel to “Downton,” focusing on Cora’s youth.
But in the meantime whip up some Welsh Rarebit and decant your wine and settle in for ten Sundays of more delightful Downton.