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10 Fascinating Facts about Jane Austen's Emma The Musical

Show Art by Clare Campbell

This novel-to-play adaptation is based off of the popular book by Jane Austen and is known for its “handsome, clever, and rich” heroine, as its famous first-line describes. The Festival’s production, directed by Valerie Rachelle, promises to be sweet, intelligent, and buoyant, fun for the whole family, and is one not to be missed! 

About Jane Austen’s Nove

  1. Unlike Austen’s other beloved female characters faced with the dilemma of marrying for status, Emma is not concerned about marriage. Instead, she is worried about boredom! Although this received criticism at the time, this is something many readers now love most about Emma
  2. Elizabeth Bennet, from Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, was seen as “a delightful creature.” The author set out to create Emma as a main character that “whom no one but myself would much like.” However, it turned out the realism and lack of perfection that Austen illustrated in the supposedly unlikeable heroine became one of her most popular characters.
  3. Austen is known profoundly for her strong female characters and bold writing. The Guardian wrote “Female self-worth could have been invented by Jane Austen; no wonder we still value her.” However, this didn’t make the author immune to her own insecurity, and it is said that she had anxiety over how Emma would be received by the public. “My greatest anxiety at present, is that this fourth work should not disgrace what was good in the others. . . I am strongly haunted by the idea that to those readers who preferred Pride and Prejudice it will appear inferior in wit, and to those who have preferred Mansfield Park*, very inferior in a good sense.”* 
  4. Austen needn’t have worried, as Emma has garnered praise both now and during its time. The Prince Regent loved Austen’s novels so much that his librarian pushed her to dedicate a work to him. You can find this dedication to him at the beginning of Emma“To His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, this work is, by His Royal Highness’s permission, most respectfully dedicated to His Royal Highness by His dutiful and obedient humble servant, the Author.”
  5. The author called Lord Byron’s publisher a “rogue” and chose to pay for advertising and its initial print of the novel herself. 

Jane Austen and Music 

  1. Austen would have been thrilled with this musical adaptation, as she played the piano herself from the age of ten. Along with manuscripts, her family inherited some of her sheet music.
  2. Judging by the music from her collection, it’s speculated that Austen would have been a soprano and would accompany herself on the piano. 
  3. Austen illustrated her love of music by portraying many of her female characters as musicians as well. Some of these characters include Marianne in Sense and Sensibility, Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey, and Elizabeth and Mary Bennet in Pride and Prejudice

The Musical 

  1. The musical was compared to candy, with Talkin’ Broadway saying Emma is “a bonbon to satisfy the sweet tooth of theater-goers.” 
  2.  The famous American musician, composer, and producer Paul Gordon wrote the music. He was a keyboardist and guitarist in the bands The B-52’s and New Radicals. Gordon also worked with clients such as Prince, Natasha Bedingfield, Lisa Maria Presley, and the Goo Goo Dolls. 

To purchase tickets to Jane Austen’s Emma The Musical, visit bard.org or call 800-PLAYTIX. The play previews June 22 at 2 p.m. and opens July 1 at 2 p.m. in the Randall L. Jones Theatre, and plays through October 7.

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