By Kenneth Jones
18 Dec 2012
Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany, NY, will premiere the show by Gordon Greenberg (book and direction) and Tommy Newman (music and lyrics) March 1-30, 2013. Opening night is March 5.
Austen's famous literary matchmaker Emma slips into boots and a miniskirt for the new musical that relocates the 1815 British novel to 1964, the time of women's lib, the pill and Petula Clark. The show was seen in Manhattan readings sponsored by Capital Rep. Musical supervision and arrangements are by Zach Dietz (In the Heights, Hands on a Hardbody), with choreography by Michele Lynch (Everyday Rapture).
Here's how Capital Rep characterizes the show: "In the stylish world of 1964 Manhattan, beloved newspaper columnist Emma Woodhouse is still single and about to turn 30. As her father urges her to marry the first available man — and her editor urges her to toe the line, she begins to transform her household advice column into a platform for change, encouraging readers to drop their casseroles, question the nature of marriage and demand sexual freedom. In a Helen Gurley Brown-inspired move, Emma recruits her first 'Single Girl' and vows to overhaul her life, setting into motion a chain of events that culminates in hilarious calamity at Truman Capote's Black and White Ball. Emma ends up learning, along with her protégé, that 'when it’s right, it’s never perfect.' Filled with the buoyant sounds and bright spirit of the early 1960s, Single Girls Guide is a fizzy precursor to 'Sex and the City' that echoes the questions we continue to ask about marriage, love, sex and being single. Marriage will never be the same, but neither will being single."
Greenberg previously told Playbill.com, "This iteration of ''Emma" turns our heroine into a newspaper advice columnist a la Helen Gurley Brown, with Knightley as her editor and next in line to succeed her father as publisher of the paper. Harriet, her pet project and first 'Single Girl' in her new column, is a dental hygienist from Cranston, Rhode Island, whose paramour Martin delivers dental supplies to her office.
"The highly eligible bachelor Elton is now a tobacco heir from North Carolina, a cross between Tucker Max and 'The Dukes of Hazzard.' And, of course, Mr. Woodhouse is the owner of the paper — like Sy Newhouse."
The writers crafted the piece, in part, in a fall 2011 residency with Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, CT. Goodspeed presented a developmental production of Greenberg and Newman's musical Band Geeks in May 2010.
Greenberg (director/book writer) developed the revised production of Working by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso (with new material by Lin-Manuel Miranda) and directed it for Broadway In Chicago, Asolo Rep and The Old Globe. It is currently being seen through Dec. 30 in a Greenberg-directed independent Off-Broadway production by Prospect Theater Company. Greenberg directed the acclaimed New York City revival of Jacques Brel… at the Zipper. In January 2012, he directed a play-with-music version of Yentl (with songs by pop writer Jill Sobule) at Asolo Rep on Florida. He co-created a new version of The Pirates of Penzance, called Pirates!, seen in regional theatres. He wrote the book of Band Geeks with Newman, and directed it at Goodspeed's Norma Terris Theatre.
Newman (music and lyrics) wrote Band Geeks with Greenberg, Gaby Alter and Mark Allen. He also wrote Tinyard Hill with Mark Allen (Theatreworks Palo Alto) and recently wrote and developed the new play Odyssey at Troy University, where he teaches.