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  Emma at Lifeline Theatre


Lifeline Theatre
6912 North Glenwood Chicago

After a successful experiment in matchmaking, Emma Woodhouse is convinced she can do no wrong. So the high-spirited socialite inserts herself in the love lives of everyone around her, meddling despite their wishes, and leaves a tangle of heartbreak in her wake. To restore happiness to her fractured world, Emma must swallow her pride and learn to value the needs of others over her own desires. Navigate the blunders of the heart in this world premiere adaptation of the 1815 romantic comedy by Jane Austen. Making his Lifeline playwriting debut, ensemble member Phil Timberlake joins ensemble member Elise Kauzlaric, director of 2012's Pride and Prejudice and 2016's Northanger Abbey (Non-Equity Jeff nomination: Best Production-Musical), for a fresh, intimate look at this beloved Austen romp.

Thru - Jul 28, 2019

Thursdays: 7:30pm
Fridays: 7:30pm
Saturdays: 4:00pm & 8:00pm
Sundays: 4:00pm

Show Type: Comedy

Box Office: 773-761-4477

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  Emma Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...If you've never read Austen's original or seen any of the many film adaptations (a new one, directed by fashion photographer Autumn de Wilde, is reportedly in the works), this device may take a few minutes to adjust to as you sort out who's who in Highbury. But both Timberlake's script (which dispenses with any narration and uses only a few instances of mostly unnecessary direct address from Emma to the audience) and Kauzlaric's sharp staging (which uses a minimum of set pieces to keep the action humming along) soon place us right at home in Emma's world."
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Kerry Reid

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...The most interesting element of this production is the decision to have all of the parts in Austen's character-rich novel played by only five actors. Throughout the play performers must transform themselves from one character to another in full view of the audience, often with just a quick change in posture or tone of voice. (Only Emma Sipora Tyler, delightful as the title character, plays a single role throughout.) This has been done before (see Charles Ludlam's two-person multiple- character 1984 tour de farce The Mystery of Irma Vep). But Timberlake and Kauzlaric do Ludlam one better by asking actors to share roles; Mr. Weston, for example, is played over the course of the evening by four different actors. This choice adds a childlike playfulness to the production that in no way takes away from an adaptation that remains true to the spirit, if not the letter, of the original."
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Jack Helbig

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...Lifeline Theatre's Emma is charming and ridiculous in the best way—but my favorite thing about this adaptation from author Phil Timberlake and director Elise Kauzlaric is how much trust they put in their audience. The cast and artistic team put on so many hats to ensure this nimble production doesn't waste a second of stage time, you'll have to forgive me gushing on their behalf."
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Sean Margaret Wagner

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...For fans of Jane Austen’s work, this two-hour visit to fictional Highbury, England, will enchant and entertain. Although many theatergoers may only know this story from the more modern, 1995 film adaptation, “Clueless,” or the 1996 period comedy, that starred Gwyneth Paltrow in the title role, Phil Timberlake’s adaptation breathes new life into this story. He makes the somewhat complicated tale about a self-entitled busybody amusing, honest and authentic. And, the greatest achievement of Elise Kauzlaric’s loving production, this play is bound to inspire new readers to pick up this novel, while motivating diehard Jane Austen fans to revisit this, and her other novels. Bravo!"
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Recommended

"...The production is directed by Elise Kauzlaric, the director of the two previous Lifeline Austen adaptations. Kauzlaric is the right person to handle this kind of subtle comic-drama. Her ability to orchestrate the sometimes amusing comings and goings of the characters on and off the intimate Lifeline stage is critical to making the production work. Aly Renee Amidei designed the period costumes. Sarah Lewis designed the atmospheric and functional single set. Andrew Hansen is responsible for the original music and sound design and Diane Fairchild designed the lighting plan."
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Dan Zeff

The Fourth Walsh - Recommended

"...The creative team of Phil Timberlake (adapter) and Elise Kauzlaric (director) put an imaginative spin on Jane Austen's tale of a plucky 19th century matchmaker. Emma is played by Emma Sipora Tyler. And the rest of the characters are played by Peter Gertas, Jeri Marshall, Madeline Pell, and Cory Davidson Williamson. Blurring the gender and age lines, the terrific ensemble continually change and share roles. Kauzlaric orchestrates it like one big ballroom dance. As an actor sashays behind a pillar, they morph into a different character."
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Katy Walsh

Chicago On Stage - Highly Recommended

"...You don’t have to be a fan of the genre to enjoy this Emma. There are lovely period costumes by Ali Renee Amadei and period music by Andrew Hansen, but this is Austen for everyone. It is simply a joy to watch this play."
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Karen Topham

TotalTheater - Recommended

"...Despite its tiny facility (a former electric station) and tiny budget, Lifeline Theatre's originality and imagination at adapting big stories to small spaces has been a gift to the residents of Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood for over a quarter of a century. Why such industry hasn't received the recognition it deserves beyond the boundaries of its home city remains a mystery."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Picture This Post - Highly Recommended

"...Set amidst the pastures and parlor rooms of Regency England, Emma’s relationships with each of these individuals give both life and depth to her misadventures in matchmaking. While the title character at times is preoccupied with the superficial, Lifeline Theatre gets right to the heart of a comedy that is all about digging under the surface."
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Harold Jaffe

Rescripted - Highly Recommended

"...Phil Timberlake’s adaptation of Emma at Lifeline Theatre is an engaging and dynamic piece of work, directed with a clear hand by Elise Kauzlaric. Based on the Jane Eyre novel of the same name, Emma follows the protagonist of the same name as she matchmakes through her fictional English countryside community of Highbury. As she interferes in all of her neighbor’s love lives, she creates a big mess and must recognize the desires of her own inner heart in order to put everyone back together."
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Regina Victor

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   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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