Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-03-17
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



by Jonathan Abarbanel, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Playwright: Paul Gordon ( book, music & lyrics )

At: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier. Tickets: 312-595-5600;; $35-$90. Runs through: March 15

This new musical adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma has received mostly glowing reviews, but my reaction is somewhat contrary. It's not that I disliked it: it's handsome and melodious, with an outstanding cast and orchestra; I had a pleasant time. So why didn't Emma sweep me away?

Jane Austen's novels—set in elegant Regency England of the early 1800s—are masterpieces of delayed gratification. Her upper-class hero and heroine never so much as embrace—let alone dally—until they declare undying love late in the story. However, to dramatize Emma as a movie, play or musical, you can't delay gratification too long or you'll pleasantly lose your audience, and this version does just that.

To be sure, Paul Gordon's book, music and lyrics are true to the main threads of Austen's novel. Gordon effortlessly conveys—no mean feat—Austen's combination of romance, intellect and comedy of manners, and his contemporary music gracefully summons an earlier, more stately era. Still I waited and waited and waited for someone to fire an emotional gun in this show. Finally, when the hero, Mr. Knightley, expressed his passion for Emma in a soaring song, the audience leapt to embrace it, making it the show's most rousingly-applauded number. But it didn't happen until the middle of Act II, which is much too long to wait. Intermission came and went without anything really being at stake for Emma or Mr. Knightley. Gordon must find a way to inject something deeply emotional for the hero and heroine much earlier.

Emma isn't a dance show, either, and Act I could use some goosing up with fancier musical staging, or a rousing all-cast number similar to "Relations," the effective early number that really sets Emma in motion. Also, Gordon has turned Harriet Smith's love interest, Robert Martin ( Ian Geers ), into an inarticulate country bumpkin rather than the well-spoken yeoman farmer of the novel. It makes him a minor comic character for whom Smith ( Ephie Aardema ) seems to settle, thereby diminishing both of them.

Beyond these points, Emma is beautifully played and sung. Lead players Lora Lee Gayer ( Emma ), Brad Standley ( Mr. Knightley ), Erica Stephen ( Jane Fairfax ) and Devin DeSantis ( Frank Churchill ) have wonderful mezzo, alto and tenor voices and deserve a good quartet, which they do not have. The strong strings and woodwinds of the five-player orchestra provide a rich sound for Gordon's lilting and lovely score, although it would be better to cut the two brief opening songs and launch the show with "Relations."

Roberta Duchak is musical director, Korey Danielson the conductor, Jane Lanier the choreographer and Barbara Gaines the director. All have done strong work, but the vehicle itself needs fine tuning after this initial full production.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Court Theatre reschedules The Gospel at Colonus to the 2020-2021 season 2020-03-31 - Chicago, IL - Court Theatre, under the continuing leadership of Charles Newell, Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, and Angel Ysaguirre, Executive Director, announces ...

Gay News

THEATER Mourning Terrence McNally 2020-03-30 - The prolific Emmy and Tony Award-winning writer Terrence McNally passed away at the age of 81 in Florida at a Sarasota hospital on ...

Gay News

STREAMING THEATER REVIEW Teenage Dick 2020-03-27 - Playwright: Mike Lew At: Theater Wit ( on line streaming only ) Tickets:; $28. Runs through: April 19 In a ...

Gay News

Raven Theatre postpones world premiere of Eden Prairie, 1971 due to COVID-19 2020-03-26 - CHICAGO ( March 25, 2020 ) — In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Raven Theatre today announced it will postpone its upcoming world ...

Gay News

Tony Awards to be postponed; no new date set 2020-03-25 - The 74th Annual Tony Awards—scheduled to air live on CBS on Sunday, June 7 from New York's Radio City Music Hall—has been postponed ...

Gay News

'Around Broadway' to honor high-school musical-theater students 2020-03-25 - Broadway In Chicago has announced its new social-media program, "Around Broadway in 80 Days." In the wake of the cancellation of The Jimmy ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Terrence McNally dies of coronavirus complications at 81 2020-03-24 - Terrence McNally—a four-time Tony winner who wrote musicals and plays such as Ragtime, Love! Valour! Compassion!, The Full Monty and Kiss of the ...

Gay News

Hell in a Handbag Productions Announces 2020 Season 2020-03-24 - CHICAGO, IL ( March 23, 2020 ) — Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to announce its 2020 Season, plus a move ...

Gay News

Broadway in Chicago updates changes in show schedules 2020-03-24 - (Chicago, March 24, 2020) The safety and health of our patrons, staff and theatrical companies is our top priority. In response to the ...

Gay News

World premiere of Notes & Letters postponed due to Coronavirus 2020-03-23 - CHICAGO ( March 23, 2020 ) — In response to the coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) pandemic, Underscore Theatre Company today announced it will ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.