Annual Play To Feature “Emma” On April 14, 16, 17

Melissa Anderson and Andre Doneskey are among the cast of 16 in this year's annual play.

Melissa Anderson and Andre Doneskey are among the cast of 16 in this year’s annual play.

Jane Austen’s fourth novel, Emma, was published two hundred years ago in 1816, but its timeless story will be presented on the Wharton Auditorium stage in mid-April.

While her better known novel Pride and Prejudice showcases the classic romance of people being attracted despite their initial dislike of each other, Emma is also a story of romance and intrigue. The heroine, Emma Woodhouse, is a beautiful, sophisticated and wealthy young woman bent on making matches for other people. Despite her good intentions to get her sweet young friend Harriet Smith, an orphan, married to a respectable suitor, Emma is absolutely clueless about what brings people in England’s Regency society together—social class, money, connections and, only sometimes, love.

On April 14, 16 and 17, Wharton Auditorium will be transformed into the Woodhouse, Hartfield and Weston estates as a cast of 16 brings the stage version of Emma to life. The play is narrated by Jane Austen herself, setting the scene, introducing characters and weaving the story together as the plot unfolds. Emma discourages a sincere proposal of marriage to Harriet from a respectable farmer, Robert Martin, then relentlessly tries to arrange matches with the local rector, Mr. Elton, and the charming and mysterious Frank Churchill when Mr. Elton leaves town to find his own bride. Little does she know that Frank is already secretly engaged and only playing a flirtatious part. Emma’s wiser and more mature friend, Mr. Knightley, serves as Emma’s conscience and often scolds her attempts at meddling in other people’s lives. Emma does not know herself—let alone others—and Mr. Knightley doesn’t know himself either.

Putting on this drama for the English Department’s spring play involves much more than a great cast and acting. Period costumes, new lighting in Wharton, piano music straight from Jane Austen’s own collection and the time period, designed sets reflecting several locations—all contribute to a satisfying theatre experience for Southwestern students, faculty and staff, as well as community members who love a good story full of twists and turns.

Community members can purchase tickets at the box office for only $5 the night of each performance, and seating is “first come, first served.” Tickets are free for the Southwestern audience.

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