Austen fever is coming to town this fall, thanks to the Lantern Theater Company. The theater is presenting the Philadelphia premiere of “Jane Austen’s Emma” this week, and will roll out an Austen Festival next month.
There’s just something about Jane.
“The thing that she does so well is she really gets to the heart of characters and she’s really satirical,” says director Kathryn MacMillan. “She paints these portraits of ridiculous yet totally familiar people, so reading her can be a real voyeuristic pleasure.”
That pleasure comes in part from the knowing wink that translates well to contemporary readers.
“Foolishness is never going to go out of style,” MacMillan says. “She certainly wasn’t the first novelist to criticize bad manners and classism and that stuff, but I think the way she went about doing it was pretty revolutionary.”
“Jane Austen’s Emma” is adapted from the Austen novel by Michael Bloom and directed by MacMillan. Previews begin Thursday; opening night is Sept. 25.
The company’s Regency & Revelry: The Jane Austen Festival takes place Oct. 11-15. The fest will include discussions, book readings, music, experiential events and more.
The 200th anniversary of Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” first published in 1813, is being marked this year with events around the world and in movie theaters. Keri Russell stars as an Austen-obsessed fan who goes to “Austenland,” which was released in August. Stephenie Meyer of “Twilight” fame is the producer.
New York City actress Lauren Sowa is Emma in the Lantern production.
“The production is one that moves quickly and is beautiful, because we’re capturing a very beautiful time, but it also has moments of real silliness and has lots of fun,” MacMillan says. “We’re watching a young girl who’s too smart for her own good.”
“Jane Austen’s Emma”
Sept. 19-Oct. 27, 7 p.m.
Lantern Theater Company
923 Ludlow St.
$20-$56 ($10 student rush)