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Emma

Jane Austen’s Emma - A Musical Romantic Comedy is playing at the Old Globe Theatre through March 6th.

The creation of composer/writer Paul Gordon, Emma premiered in September 2007 at Palo Alto’s TheaterWorks. The show has had some success in productions in Cincinnati and St. Louis before being brought to The Globe.

The program contained a note from the composer, “Why Emma Sings” in which the composer describes why he thinks Emma is material for a musical.

What perplexed me throughout the show is that Mr. Gordon gave the singers very little to sing. There was no lack of music but the style was repetitive and tuneless. Every song seemed to follow a pattern of patter-patter-patter-patter-sustained note.

Rhythmically, the music was complex. I was impressed by the diction of the singers and their ability to make mountains of text understandable to the audience.

The musical pieces were obviously based on harmonic structure instead of lyrical. At times it seemed as though Mr. Gordon established his harmonic progressions in the song and then jammed the text into complex rhythms relying heavily on a pseudo recitative style.

Over the course of an entire show, this style becomes mundane and boring. It was as if the entire musical landscape was one massive plateau with nary a peak or valley. The music was pretty but it didn’t support the characters or the plot. There was no tension in the music to augment the growing frustration between Mr. Knightly and Emma.

Near the middle of the second act, Mr. Knightly sings the only song in the show. The song was appropriately titled Emma. It was a great song and it worked well with Knightly’s character.

The song is reprised as Knightly finally reveals his true feelings to Emma. This scene worked very well and musically it saved the show. I was expecting the scene to conclude with both Emma and Knightly singing the song together but that didn’t happen. Musically we never got a validation of the love Knightly and Emma have for each other.

Going to a show and then writing about what I liked and didn’t like is easy.

What’s difficult is creating a new musical, bringing it to stage, revising it, bringing it back to stage again, revising again and so forth. I completely appreciate and respect the blood, sweat, and tears that go into the creative process.

Emma is a good show and I enjoyed the story, but in its current form the music is holding it back from being a great show.

However, the audience did give the cast a standing ovation and the show has been extended for a week beyond its original run so what do I know?

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Jane Austen’s Emma - A Musical Romantic Comedy is playing at the Old Globe Theatre through March 6th.

The creation of composer/writer Paul Gordon, Emma premiered in September 2007 at Palo Alto’s TheaterWorks. The show has had some success in productions in Cincinnati and St. Louis before being brought to The Globe.

The program contained a note from the composer, “Why Emma Sings” in which the composer describes why he thinks Emma is material for a musical.

What perplexed me throughout the show is that Mr. Gordon gave the singers very little to sing. There was no lack of music but the style was repetitive and tuneless. Every song seemed to follow a pattern of patter-patter-patter-patter-sustained note.

Rhythmically, the music was complex. I was impressed by the diction of the singers and their ability to make mountains of text understandable to the audience.

The musical pieces were obviously based on harmonic structure instead of lyrical. At times it seemed as though Mr. Gordon established his harmonic progressions in the song and then jammed the text into complex rhythms relying heavily on a pseudo recitative style.

Over the course of an entire show, this style becomes mundane and boring. It was as if the entire musical landscape was one massive plateau with nary a peak or valley. The music was pretty but it didn’t support the characters or the plot. There was no tension in the music to augment the growing frustration between Mr. Knightly and Emma.

Near the middle of the second act, Mr. Knightly sings the only song in the show. The song was appropriately titled Emma. It was a great song and it worked well with Knightly’s character.

The song is reprised as Knightly finally reveals his true feelings to Emma. This scene worked very well and musically it saved the show. I was expecting the scene to conclude with both Emma and Knightly singing the song together but that didn’t happen. Musically we never got a validation of the love Knightly and Emma have for each other.

Going to a show and then writing about what I liked and didn’t like is easy.

What’s difficult is creating a new musical, bringing it to stage, revising it, bringing it back to stage again, revising again and so forth. I completely appreciate and respect the blood, sweat, and tears that go into the creative process.

Emma is a good show and I enjoyed the story, but in its current form the music is holding it back from being a great show.

However, the audience did give the cast a standing ovation and the show has been extended for a week beyond its original run so what do I know?

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