Emma, Paul Gordon's Austen-Inspired Musical, Opens Jan. 23 at Old Globe

News   Emma, Paul Gordon's Austen-Inspired Musical, Opens Jan. 23 at Old Globe
Old Globe Theatre's production of Jane Austen's Emma – A Musical Romantic Comedy, by Tony Award nominee Paul Gordon, starring Patti Murin as Emma Woodhouse and Adam Monley as Mr. Knightley, opens Jan. 23 following previews from Jan. 15 in San Diego, CA. Jeff Calhoun directs.

Adam Monley and Patti Murin
Adam Monley and Patti Murin Photo by Henry DiRocco

The musical, based on Austen's novel, has book, music and lyrics by Tony Award nominee Gordon, known for Broadway's Jane Eyre and the recent Daddy Long Legs musical. Tony nominee Calhoun staged Broadway's Brooklyn and the Deaf West revival of Big River, and the regional Bonnie and Clyde musical by Frank Wildhorn and Don Black. Jane Austen's Emma will play to Feb. 27. 

According to Old Globe notes, "Emma, a beautiful and clever young woman who prides herself on her matchmaking ability, is preoccupied with romance yet is clueless to her own feelings of love. When she takes on a young friend as her latest project, her well-intentioned efforts misfire, leading to a whirlwind of complications — and ultimately, true love."

Jane Austen's Emma premiered at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto in September 2007. Gordon's musical has since had successful regional productions at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

In the days leading up to the San Diego opening, Gordon told Playbill.com, "Our intention was to make the music and the set work together in seamless musical and visual counterpoint to tell the story. Tobin Ost has designed a set that consists mostly of an English garden maze, which serves as the metaphor for the confusion Emma creates for herself in her misguided attempts at matchmaking. The set also employs a turntable that Emma is usually in the center of — as she watches the world revolve around her. I'm hoping audiences will enjoy this production and, though I am proud of my score, I wouldn't be surprised if they left the theatre humming the sets."

And what's the flavor of the music? Gordon explained, " I would describe the score as 'eclectic chamber music' with hints of baroque and The Beatles. I've tried to keep the melodies consonant but with some harmonic twists and turns underneath to keep the ear on its toes, so to speak. We've attempted to make the story telling as fluid as possible and one hopes that the audience is never quite noticing whether a character is singing or speaking. In writing the book, I've used quite a lot of Jane Austen's original dialogue and have kept true to her story. The characters in the novel are remarkably contemporary and at its core this is a classic romantic comedy. In fact it could be argued that 'Emma' was one of the first romantic comedies in literature that later paved the way for the great Hepburn-Tracy classics, Woody Allen and Nora Ephron films that were to follow. We have also delightfully discovered, through preview audiences, how filled with humor this story is. A great tribute to Jane Austen herself and why her work has lasted over 200 years." In 2001, Gordon was nominated for a Tony Award for composing the music and lyrics to the Broadway musical Jane Eyre directed by John Caird and Scott Schwartz. Daddy Long Legs, also written with John Caird, had its world premiere at Rubicon Theatre Company in the fall of 2009 and has gone on to play TheatreWorks, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, The Broad Stage in Los Angeles and received productions at Northlight Theatre, La Mirada Theatre and Laguna Playhouse. His other works include Lucky Break, written with Jay Gruska and Seth Friedman, based on the 1976 film "The Front," plus Death: The Musical and Analogue and Vinyl. Gordon is currently working on Little Miss Scrooge, a contemporary retelling of the Dickens classic.

The Old Globe company includes Will Reynolds as Frank Churchill, Adam Daveline (as Robert Martin), Richert Easley (Mr. Woodhouse), Suzanne Grodner (Miss Bates), Kelly Hutchinson (Mrs. Bates, Mrs. Elton), Brian Herndon (Mr. Elton), Dani Marcus (Harriet Smith), Amanda Naughton (Mrs. Weston), Don Noble (Mr. Weston) and Allison Spratt Pearce (Jane Fairfax).

Murin's recent credits include Euterpe and Kira understudy in Xanadu (Broadway) and Lysistrata Jones in Douglas Carter Beane's new musical Give It Up! (Dallas Theater Center).

Monley was last seen at The Old Globe in Working. He has appeared on Broadway in the original cast of Mamma Mia! His national tour credits include Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera and Mark Twain and Voice of Huck in Deaf West's production of Big River, directed by Jeff Calhoun. He recently played Paul in Carnival! for Goodspeed Musicals.

The creative team includes Tobin Ost (scenic design), Denitsa Bliznakova (costume design), Michael Gilliam (lighting design), John H. Shivers and David Patridge (sound design), Brad Haak (music supervisor), Laura Bergquist (music director) and Thomas J. Gates (stage manager).

Tickets can be purchased online at www.TheOldGlobe.org, by phone at (619) 23-GLOBE or by visiting the Box Office at 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park.

The cast of <i>Emma</i>
The cast of Emma
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