If you want a musical that’ll make you want to get up and dance, look no further than EMMA! A Pop Musical. It debuts at Central York High School on Friday, November 17 at 7:30 p.m., and saw two more performances on Saturday, November 18, at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. respectively.
Written by Eric Price and based from, Emma, a novel written by Jane Austen, this musical exudes a certain air that you really won’t find with many other musicals. Stuffed with snarky humor, outstanding renditions of several notable pop songs, and a plot which is simple, yet highly compelling, EMMA! A Pop Musical is a gem of a show which should’ve garnered more attention than it receives.
The musical centers around a girl named Emma Woodhouse [Kaitlyn Arrow]. She is a senior at Highbury Prep, and her calling card is being a matchmaker to her fellow students and even the teachers. Her matchmaking is met with strong disapproval from Jeff Knightly [Koby Fink], another senior at the school.
Throughout the musical, Emma aims to find Harriet Smith [Katie Fonda] her own love, and with this comes plenty of mischief and mishaps.
The whole musical is strung together through the singing of notable pop songs such as, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” by Cyndi Lauper, and, “How Will I Know,” by Whitney Houston. Comedy and pop culture references are prevalent, making this a great watch for younger and older audiences alike.
The show was directed by Ben Hodge, while the music was directed by Nicholas Curry. Replacing Mark Zortman, long-time head of the theater arts program at Central, was certainly a tall order. It was the first show without his influence for a while, and I think they did admirably, given the circumstances. The show was just plain awesome. It was almost as if it had a laid-back direction to begin with.
Don’t get me wrong, the show was not perfect, and still had plenty of noticeable faults.
The technical parts of a show, such as lights and sound, are integral to a live theater production. Though overshadowed by the show as a whole, the off-stage roles still matter. One of the biggest complaints I received from other spectators was the lack of sound clarity.
In such a large theater like Central’s boasts, having the sound reach to the very back of the upper rows is imperative. If a portion of the audience can’t clearly hear the proceedings, you might as well have just stolen ten dollars from their pockets, because at that point it’s not worth showing up as a spectator.
The excellent use of props was a small, but welcomed addition to the musical. Most of the costumes were simply your typical school uniform, however some characters such as Frankie Churchill [Trevor Blood] had very vibrant clothing, which screams ‘80s. This is a good thing, since the show does take place in the decade of excess.
All in all, EMMA! A Pop Musical was a very pleasurable show. It had a simple, yet compelling plot, made possible with the jubilant and well-rounded characters who were brilliantly portrayed by the students at Central. The directing and overall choreography impressed, as well as the songs they sang themselves. If not for theatre etiquette, I would’ve sprung from my seat and began grooving. Though there was a few issues with sound quality, as a whole, I loved the show.