“Emma” A Joyous, Raucous, Breath Of Fresh Air

By Judith Dauncey

Arizona Theatre Company’s (ATC) current production, Jane Austen’s Emma, is like a breath of fresh air for a new year.   Paul Gordon, who adapted Emma from the original novel, also crafted the music and lyrics.  He first developed Jane Austen’s Emma at TeatreWorks in Palo Alto, and it won the 2007 Bay Area Critics Circle Award.  Taking one of Jane Austen’s most beloved pieces and settings it to music is no easy task; a task he handled nicely with another classic piece of literature; creating the Tony Award-nominated score for the musical Jane Eyre.

ATC’s production of Emma was fluid and bubbled with energy.  The actress in the lead role of Emma, Anneliese van der Pol, had the audience eating out of her hands during the raucous Recital scene.  While all of the performers handled the work nicely, Dani Marcus’ Harriet was adorable in her naiveté; and Shannon Stoeke’s Knightly was as uptight and first-love-crushable as they come.

I am endlessly proud of the quality of the productions and performances by the ATC.  Take the opportunity before the run ends and treat yourself to the mischief, enthusiasm and joy of Emma.

Jane Austen’s Emma runs at Herberger Theatre through January 20. For more information, visit www.arizonatheatre.org.

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