Guthrie Theater Announced Cast of EMMA World Premiere

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Guthrie Theater Announced Cast of EMMA World Premiere

The Guthrie Theater has announced the cast and creative team for the playful world premiere of Emma, written by Kate Hamill, based on the novel by Jane Austen and directed by Meredith McDonough. In this Guthrie-commissioned work, Hamill's fun and creative adaptation of Austen's social commentary on British life is a fresh take on the beloved classic.

In Hamill's adaptation, Emma Woodhouse prides herself on being a matchmaker with an impeccable record, much to the chagrin of her dear friend Mr. Knightley. But self-delusion and too much leisure get Emma into unfortunate situations of her own making. Her best-laid plans are turned upside down by unpredictable displays of affection, unexpected rivals and Emma's sudden realization that true love may have been under her nose all along. With screwball comedy and surprises aplenty, this fast-paced adaptation interprets the Austen classic in delightfully unconventional ways.

Since 2017, Hamill has been one of the most produced playwrights in the country and one of the most prolific adapters of classic literature for the American stage. Hamill's first play, an inventive and sprightly adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, debuted in 2014, and she plans to adapt all of Austen's novels in the order in which they were published. She has completed adaptations of Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park, and the Guthrie world premiere of Emma marks the completion of her fourth Austen adaptation. Additionally, Hamill has adapted other classic novels for the stage, including Vanity Fair by William Thackeray and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Hamill's adaptation of Austen's Sense and Sensibility was produced at the Guthrie in 2016.

"If we're not taking these stories out to air, what are we doing? Why not just read the novel? We have to bring new perspectives to old stories, especially in the theater, or we're not advancing the forms," Hamill recently shared regarding her interest in adapting classic works. "It may be like scribbling on an altar with crayon, but perhaps some altars are better with a little joyous, irreverent crayon added." She describes her adaptation of Emma as a feminist-forward farce. "It's a screwball comedy about a woman with a bit too much time and a bit too little to do who figures out how to use her energies wisely in this world."

Throughout 2019, workshops and readings were held in New York City and Minneapolis as part of the development process for the commission. Hamill will be at the Guthrie during rehearsals and work closely with McDonough, whose previous work at the Guthrie includes directing Noises Off, the ingenious, slapstick comedy, in 2018.

The title character of Emma Woodhouse will be played by Amelia Pedlow (Guthrie: Frankenstein - Playing With Fire). Additional casting for Emma includes Sun Mee Chomet (Guthrie: Twelfth Night, As You Like It, King Lear) as Miss Bates/As Cast, Ryan Colbert (Guthrie: A Christmas Carol, As You Like It, Frankenstein - Playing With Fire) as Frank Churchill/Robert Martin/As Cast, David Kelly (Guthrie: Harvey) as Mr. Woodhouse/Mr. Weston/As Cast, Carman Lacivita (Guthrie: debut) as Mr. Knightley, Anna Leverett (Guthrie: debut) as Mrs. Elton/As Cast, Louis Sallan (Guthrie: debut) as Mr. Elton/As Cast, Samantha Steinmetz (Guthrie: debut) as Harriet Smith, Christine Weber (Guthrie: A Christmas Carol, Cyrano de Bergerac, Pride and Prejudice) as Jane Fairfax/As Cast and Brenda Withers (Guthrie: debut) as Mrs. Weston/Mrs. Bates/As Cast.

The creative team for Emma includes Kate Hamill (adapter), Meredith McDonough (director), Lex Liang (scenic and costume designer), Paul Toben (lighting designer), Palmer Hefferan (sound designer/composer), Emily Michaels King (movement director), Carla Steen (resident dramaturg), Jill Walmsley Zager (resident voice coach), Aaron Preusse (resident fight director), Jennifer Liestman (resident casting director), Tree O'Halloran (stage manager), Nate Stanger (assistant stage manager) and Cara Phipps (assistant director).

Emma will run April 11 - May 31, 2020, on the Wurtele Thrust Stage. Single tickets start at $15 for preview performances (April 11-16) and regular tickets start at $25. Tickets are on sale now through the Box Office at 612.377.2224, 1.877.44.STAGE (toll-free) or online at guthrietheater.org.


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