Jane Austen is famous for her classic novels detailing period-specific relationships both familial and romantic. Now, adapted for the stage, this reimagined tale is set in England, but as opposed to the original novel’s setting, it is closer to modern day. Nevertheless, it is a time when the ladies all wear well tailored, fitted dresses; all the men wear suits and leather shoes; and courtship is the crux of all budding romantic relationships.
As a matchmaker for everyone but herself, Emma deflects her own suitors to instead find matches for the locals of Highbury—the vicar, her dearest friend, her brother-in-law, seemingly everyone. “Relationships, they are always better when they are not yours.”
Streaming Musicals presents a complex take on a classic
Now, what is a musical without songs? Ballads of love profession, hymns of embarrassment after being left alone, songs of discovery—all of which are sung with fervor by a cast dedicated to flexing every last acting muscle to bring the show to life.
Woven into the musical—between serious character-to-character exchanges and fourth-wall breaking monologues, complete with blue overhead light transitions—are traces of lightheartedness and even comedy. One such example, Emma painted a portrait of a young couple in love, and when all in the room went to look at it, a gentleman remarked how lovely the woman in it looked. To which the stubborn Mr. Knightly, after looking at the awful painting, sang out, “Men can have dementia.”
One of Austen’s most evident themes—which no doubt, in this reviewer’s opinion, is well fleshed-out in this production—is the idea of class relations. Rejecting love and even friendship on the basis of class and background pops up seemingly constantly. And for a number of the characters—such as Emma’s friend Miss Smith—it is something that follows her throughout all twenty chapters of this two-hour film.
Back and forth, misinformation, accidents, and rejection, for this viewer, are what makes this film worthy of its two hours. While it may be a deterrent for some, the pay off and whimsy of the productions entirety make it all the more worth it.
If you are a glutton for the classics and their various adaptations, EMMA is an excellent streaming option for all audiences.
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Kelli Barrett (Emma Woodhouse), Timothy Gulan (Mr. Knightley), Dani Marcus (Harriet Smith), Lauren Cohn (Miss Bates), Brian Herndon (Mr. Elton), Richert Easley (Mr. Woodhouse), Sharon Reitkerk (Jane Fairfax), Will Reynolds (Frank Churchill), Adam Daveline (Robert Martin), Don Richard (Mr. Weston), Pamela Winslow Kashani (Mrs. Weston), Caitlin Brooke (Mrs. Elton, Mrs. Bates, Katherine Martin)
Paul Gordon (Writer, Music & Lyrics), Tim Kashani (Director), Kent Nicholson (Director), Wendy Seyb (Choreographer & Associate Director), Dara Wishingrad (Production Designer), Kara Branch (Costumes), Benjamin Weill (Lighting), Seth Huling (Sound Designer), Brad Haak (Music Supervisor), Katie White (Additional Photography), Somie Pak (Associate Costume Designer), Laura Bergquist (Associate Music Supervisor), Scott DelaCruz (Line Producer), Ashley Moradipour (First Assistant Director), Katie White (Props), Alice Brooks (Director of Photography), Ally Rice (Editor)
Rent for $4.99
Purchase for $19.99
Photos courtesy of Streaming Musicals
About the Author:
Margaret Smith is a writer, editor, and critic achieving her B.A. from Columbia College Chicago. Having migrated from small-town Illinois, she now dwells in Chicago with a curious eye for art and a penchant for commentary. When not putting pen to paper, you might catch her about the city sipping coffee and filling in crossword puzzles.