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Jane Austen's Classic Tale of Love and Misunderstandings at USU

Thursday, Mar. 21, 2013

USU theater student Kayli Jackson in
USU student Kayli Jackson plays Emma Woodhouse in the USU production of "Emma," presented March 26-30 in the Morgan Theatre, Chase Fine Arts Center.
Photo illustration for USU theater production of
Emma is a congenial young lady who delights in meddling in other people's affairs. She is clueless, however, about her own feelings with the gentle Mr. Knightly, played by Gordon Dunn.

Emma, Jane Austen’s famous story of misinterpreted romance, is coming to life March 26-30 in the Morgan Theatre in the Chase Fine Arts Center on Utah State University’s campus. The play is presented by USU’s Department of Theatre Arts.


Young, headstrong Emma Woodhouse believes she has a special talent for matchmaking, but where the affections of others and her own heart are concerned she is charmingly clueless. Jane Austen’s cherished romantic comedy of small village English life in the 18th century comes to life in this stage adaptation.


“This period piece is classic Jane Austen,” said Lynda Linford, director of the show and associate professor in the Caine College of the Arts. “Between the beautiful costume designs by Nancy Hills, the striking set by Dennis Hassan and the dedicated cast, this show is one not to be missed.”


Austen’s novel has been adapted for the stage by Jon Jory, a theatrical director, playwright and New York Theatre Hall of Fame inductee. Jory served as artistic director of the Long Wharf Theatre from 1965 to 1966. In 1969, he took over the helm of The Actors Theatre of Louisville, and while there created the annual Humana Festival of New American Plays — the festival that has since produced a number of award-winning plays, including Crimes of the Heart, Cementville and Dinner with Friends. His four Jane Austen stage adaptations have played in more than a dozen countries.


Set in the Regency era of England, the show requires British accents and mannerisms, multiple costumes and multiple sets. Female cast members wear corsets, an essential piece of women’s wardrobes in the time period.


“I’m getting used to the corset, but I don’t know how women dealt with it back then,” said Kayli Jackson, a junior majoring in theater performance who plays Emma.


Emma Woodhouse is a congenial young lady who delights in meddling in other people’s affairs. She is perpetually trying to unite those who are utterly wrong for each other, but despite her interest in romance, Emma is clueless about her own feelings and relationship with the gentle Mr. Knightly.


“Mr. Knightly has been Emma’s closest friend growing up and throughout the play he realizes he is in love with her,” said Gordon Dunn, a senior majoring in theater performance who plays Mr. Knightly. “Neither one of them can see it, and miscommunication abounds in this show, but in the end everything turns out. If you’re a sucker for romance and enjoy watching people act ridiculous because of misinformation, this is the show to see.”


Emma is showing March 26-30 at 7:30 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee Saturday, March 30. Tickets are $13 adults, $10 seniors and youth, $8 USU faculty and staff and free for USU students with ID. For tickets and more information, visit the Caine College of the Arts Box Office in room 139-B in the Chase Fine Arts Center, call 435-797-8022 or see the college’s Production Services website.


Emma is almost 200 years old but is still so relevant today,” said Jackson. “It’s a terrific story full of the crazy mistakes, love triangles and misunderstandings we all experience when love is in the air.”


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Writer: Kara Rindlisbacher, 435-797-9203, kara.rindlisbacher@usu.edu

Contact: Denise Albiston, 435-797-1500, denise.albiston@usu.edu

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