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  Emma at Stage 773


Stage 773
1225 W Belmont Ave Chicago

Dead Writers Theatre Collective presents playwright Michael Bloom's exciting new adaptation of Emma, Jane Austen's beloved comedy of manners about the perils of finding love. It's the ever-relatable story of the young Emma Woodhouse, a well-meaning but disaster-prone matchmaker, who ignores her own romantic feelings for her lifelong friend and eligible bachelor Mr. Knightley while setting out to find a suitor for a friend. Her efforts go awry, of course, leading to a bevy of comical complications.

Presented by Dead Writers Theatre Collective

Thru - May 25, 2014

Thursdays: 7:30pm
Fridays: 7:30pm
Saturdays: 7:30pm
Sundays: 2:30pm

Price: $25-$42

Show Type: Comedy/Drama

Box Office: 773-327-5252

Running Time: 2hrs, 30mins; one intermission

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

Chicago Sun Times - Recommended

"...The Dead Writers Theatre Collective production of "Emma" is the latest stage version of an Austen novel. Adapted by Michael Bloom and directed by Jim Schneider, it is being performed by a large cast that seems perfectly at home with the manners, as well as the sometimes unmannerly ways of England's Regency-era country estate types. The actors can even stylishly make their way through several complexly patterned reels, charmingly choreographed by Mady Newfield and Tammy Ravitts Bretscher."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...But behind all that bossiness lies a sweetness that reminds you why the book's title isn't Anyone But Emma-something the 1995 film Clueless nails. Unfortunately, that sweetness is sorely lacking in this staging by Dead Writers Theater Collective. Heather Chrisler's Emma feeds rather than fights the character's arrogance, and director Jim Schneider's blocking frequently has the actors teetering at the edge of the stage, as if they'd prefer booking it over sticking around to discover whether Emma ever comes around and makes nice. The show would do well to take a note from Alicia Silverstone's bubbly, likable Cher. As if."
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Chloe Riley

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...Anyway, we don't ask for densely textured character studies from plays of this kind, but only that actors keep up the breathless pace reflecting a morality governed by impulse. Assisting the agile-footed ensemble are Kendra Kargenian's fine-tuned dialect instruction, Moon Jung Kim's origami-based fold-out scenic design and Patti Roeder's airily enticing wardrobe. Jeffrey Levin's spritely musical score enhances the obligatory ballroom scenes' reels, rounds and cotillions, expertly choreographed by Mady Newfield and Tammy Ravitts Bretscher. ( Those planning summer weddings should also note Bob Douglas' playbill credit for his floral arrangements. ) Even a capricious light board that chose opening night to malfunction could not diminish the enthusiasm generated by giddy lovers in the first flush of mating season."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Centerstage - Highly Recommended

"...In the title role, Heather Chrisler, while a bit broad with her British dialect, nicely commandeers the story. Ben Muller plays George Knightly with a proper bemused attitude, allowing him to observe Emma’s machinations and offering a good scolding when needed. Other standouts include Hillary Sigale as Harriet, Sara Minton as Miss Bates and Jerry Bloom as Emma’s health-obsessed father, Mr. Woodhouse. For literary fans, this visit to Austenland will feel authentic and inspire readers to revisit her novels."

Colin Douglas

ShowBizChicago - Highly Recommended

"...Dead Writers Theatre Collective continues to prove that these masterpieces of literature are as relevant in today’s society as they were when first written.  Jane Austen’s commentary on the rich and privileged, much like Charles Dickens, is an absolute mirror we can use on our current society as a whole.    Though Emma may seem trite, all one has to do is look how Austen writes her main character juxtaposed to the underprivileged who once raised Emma and who now take pride and gratitude in the woman she has become while nearly begging her for food to eat.  That is humility that we can all learn from.  Those are the layers of  any society that tends to humanize us all, and one in which we can look out our own window and watch unravel itself in real time."
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Michael J. Roberts

Theatre By Numbers - Recommended

"...This play is based on a classic piece of literature, so I don't believe it is a spoiler for me to tell you that Emma tries to set up multiple people with each other in romantic situations, and each one fails to happen. Even her own attempts at romance are thwarted by the one actual romance that occurs during the play (and in which she plays no guiding role). And yet, somehow, by the end, Emma ends up with the man who she naturally should in a Jane Austen world. Knightly, a good and honest man who has been there all along , gets the girl. And because we like him, we are happy, regardless of the fact that Emma herself doesn't truly seem to have many redeeming qualities."
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Christopher Kidder-Mostrom

Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...This visual feast almost overshadows the plot, assiduously narrated by Heather Chrisler as the title character. Indulged into an unearned sense of emotional entitlement, Emma never intends to marry but will match up her unassuming friend Harriet Smith (Hillary Sigale, ironically an Alicia Silverstone lookalike), just as she successfully mated the seemingly incompatible Westons (Brad Davidson and Lorelei Sturm). Perversely, Emma industriously discourages Harriet’s natural inclination to the equally stolid Robert Martin (Nick Bonges) and directs her instead toward snobbish Rev. Philip Elton (Kevin Sheehan). Unaware of Emma’s secret script for his inevitable happiness, Elton rejects dour Harriet to marry the insufferably elitist Mrs. Elton (Maeghan Looney in fine flourish)."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic - Somewhat Recommended

"...The speech patterns of the women that found Heather Chrisler's Emma and her fellow ladies speaking in a high English accent so quickly and all in the same high pitch that virtually all these ladies sound exactly alike. Chrisler machine-gunned her lines so fast that many of the self-contained laughs were lost. And, after the sameness of the speech patterns drone on, I lost my involvement as the dreariness of listening to voices that came off as exactly the same wore me out. That cacophony, especially in that rapid-fire cadence, rendered much of the dialogue unintelligible."
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Tom Williams

Chicago Stage Standard - Somewhat Recommended

"...Director Jim Schneider’s grand ambitions for Dead Writers Theater Collective – “presenting theater with premiere production values and the highest caliber of period authenticity” – are admirable. And a hint of what they someday might achieve can be seen in their new production of Michael Bloom’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, which has a fascinating set and some great performances. But because it needed a couple more days of technical rehearsal before premiering on Wednesday, it came across as cumbersome and ponderous, with only glimpses of the magic the company aspires to."

David Zak

Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...Dead Writers Theatre Collective is a new ensemble/company that prides itself on presenting theater with premier production values, and they do so in an intimate space with the highest regard for bringing quality to every ingredient of their recipe for a pure theatrical experience for their audience. The current production on the stage at Stage 773 on Belmont is Jane Austen’s “Emma” as adapted for the stage by Michael Bloom and finely directed by Jim Schneider."
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Alan Bresloff

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