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‘Emma’ offers contemporary twist to Jane Austen classic

February 3, 2017


When Timuchin Aker first read the 2010 stage adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic comedy “Emma,” he was struck by the play’s dichotomy.

The script read contemporary but was still rooted in 19th century language.

Emma posterAker, an assistant professor of theatre at Stephens College and director of “Emma,” which opens today at the Macklanburg Playhouse, decided the best way to approach the play about the mischievous “matchmaker of Highbury” was to embrace the script’s curious twist of old and new and infuse the production with young ideas and old-fashion sensibilities. 

“The play is very much set in Austen’s time period and culture,” he said. “But there is still a good bit of modern contemporary flare to it.”

With that in mind, Aker turned to Tom Andes, instructor of music, who agreed to do music for the show. And in keeping with the old-meets-new spirit of the play, they decided to shake things up.

That’s how the piano ended up on stage where Andes will play throughout the two-hour show. He even uses the instrument to make special sound effects.

Another aspect of the play that gives the production a contemporary feel is the show’s main character, Emma Woodhouse—played by Morgan Walker ’17—who talks directly to the audience. With a snap of her fingers, Emma stops the action on stage and addresses the playgoers. 

“It’s not what you’d expect,” Aker said.

Originally published in 1815, the story follows Emma Woodhouse, the “matchmaker of Highbury,” who has just moved on to her newest project, a sweet but modest girl named Harriet Smith. With comedic twists and turns, the story is a lighthearted tale of gossip, matrimony and misunderstanding. 


Emma [Classic, G]
Performances are 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Feb. 3-4, 10-11 and 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 5, in the Macklanburg Playhouse, 100 Willis Ave. Contact the Box Office at (573) 876-7199 or for tickets. 

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