Re: Paul Gordon's "Emma" at the Old Globe in San Diego
this review was posted yesterday of the show:http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culture ... globe.html
I replied with a very lengthy comment, but it has to be approved by the author before posting. Just in case he does not post my comment, this was my reply:
How can you call an adaptation "not particularly imaginative"? Were they supposed to reinvent the wheel? It's an ADAPTATION. An attempt to bring the novel to life in musical form. I think an acting style that leaned towards Masterpiece Theatre (as you called it) would have been a dull show to watch indeed. Perhaps some of the characterizations were not period correct, but then period correct would not have made for a very entertaining musical theater experience.
You said that the book "offers a shorthand version of the novel, as it must", but the story is in the music. The book may be sparse (although still very true to the novel with many pieces of dialogue coming straight from Jane Austen herself) but the real character and points of interest are found in the songs. Why shouldn't a MUSICAL have the best bits in the MUSIC? So what if Emma introduces herself and catches the audience up on a few tidbits while the set rotates?
I must also disagree with your opinion of the score. I recently posted online to some friends today about the show: "The music is just... perfect. Light, funny, sometimes surprising, tender, soaring... all of it felt just so RIGHT in every moment." I could not have been more surprised at your calling it "utilitarian".
I did not hear any "stale" laughter at the two performances I attended (one in previews, one opening night). Indeed, I was surprised at the heartiness of the laughter coming from the rest of the audience and thought it very genuine. During the opening night performance I tried to remember whether there was that much laughter during the other preview show I attended. The comedic moments were very well placed and not forced at all in my opinion, except perhaps for the SNL-type characterization of Mrs. Elton.
I am curious as to what you expected from Mr. Knightly? I certainly did not interpret Adam Monley's characterization as "passive" or "depressed"; I thought he did an excellent job of highlighting the difference in their dispositions and age without being stuffy or snobby.
I liked the show enough to see it twice while I was visiting a friend in San Diego, and would recommend it to anyone as a very delightful piece of musical theater.