Jane Austen’s Emma is delightful family fare | Two Decades of Kids and Counting | Sally Torbey | Palo Alto Online |

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Two Decades of Kids and Counting

By Sally Torbey

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About this blog: About this blog: I have enjoyed parenting five children in Palo Alto for the past two decades and have opinions about everything to do with parenting kids (and dogs). The goal of my blog is to share the good times and discuss the ...  (More)

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Jane Austen’s Emma is delightful family fare

Uploaded: Dec 24, 2015
There are still tickets available for TheatreWorks' production of Jane Austen's Emma, conveniently staged at Lucie Stern Theatre right here in Palo Alto! The musical wraps up on January 2nd and it is a true delight, wonderful entertainment for all ages for the holiday season. Being a devoted fan of all of Jane Austen’s novels, and having loved the musical Emma, which had its world premiere at TheatreWorks in 2007 at the Mt View Center for the Performing Arts, I have been looking forward to this performance all year, and it exceeded even my high expectations.

About half the cast has returned for this revival, including the actors who play the leads, Emma and Mr. Knightly. We all agreed that Ms. Dobbs, who plays Emma, doesn’t appear to have aged a day in 8 years, but brings an even more appealing depth and warmth to the character of Emma. Mr. Gulan, who plays Mr. Knightly, is even more adorable than the last time around, and his current age seems more consistent with the mature Mr. Knightly’s age. This production is even funnier than I remember. Perhaps it is the smaller venue giving us a more intimate experience with the characters. The sweet and unsophisticated Harriet and the elderly Mr. Woodhouse were side-splittingly funny, but every cast member had us chuckling at some point.

We had the good fortune of seeing some of the cast up close and personal at a post-performance question and answer chat. None of the cast admitted to being devotees of Jane Austen’s books, but when asked how they prepared for this production, all the cast said they read and reread the novel Emma. To take a much beloved 400 page novel written 200 hundred years ago, and condense it into an entertaining two hour musical with a modern sensibility is an amazing feat, but it is perhaps the actors’ preparation to familiarize themselves with the writer’s own words that has best informed their characters. They all seemed to have stepped right out of her book and onto the stage!
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Posted by LJ, a resident of another community,
on Dec 24, 2015 at 11:32 am

I can't think of a more enjoyable way to experience the best of Jane Austen. What an incredible evening! Fun even if you haven't ever read any Austen!

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Dec 24, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi LJ,
Good point! Those in our family who had never cracked an Austen book also enjoyed the show immensely!

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Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Dec 28, 2015 at 10:10 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Yes, much fun. We took a friend who had not read the book and whose first language is Punjabi and she understood and loved the play.

Sally is right about Gulan who plays Mr. Knightly. He has a great voice and some of the lines are priceless.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Dec 28, 2015 at 10:18 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Dear Stephen!
Thanks for reading and commenting. Wonderful to hear that Jane Austen's stories transcend and entertain not only across centuries but also across cultures.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by malvika, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jul 20, 2017 at 4:21 am

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