Langley’s Jane Townsend as Miss Bates and Mark Fleming as  Mr. Woodhouse in SAMC Theatre’s production of Jane Austen’s Emma.

Langley’s Jane Townsend as Miss Bates and Mark Fleming as Mr. Woodhouse in SAMC Theatre’s production of Jane Austen’s Emma.

It’s time to play the Match Game

SAMC at TWU presents the Jane Austen classic Emma, on stage from March 12 to 23

Long before, there was Emma.

The year is 1814 and Emma Woodhouse is eager to see her friends happily married.

Giddy with the success of one match, Emma ignores the warnings of Mr. Knightley and turns her attention to young Harriet Smith, determined to ensure a suitable union.

But Emma’s efforts misfire, resulting in a flurry of comic complications that uncover the real effects of her meddling and reveal how little Emma knows about true love.

A timeless romance, Emma, based on the classic novel by Jane Austen, plays March 12 to 23 at TWU’s School of the Arts, Media and Culture.

“Directing a show about a matchmaker in these days of eHarmony and is really fascinating,” says Langley’s Aaron Caleb, who helms the production.

“Whatever the century, we all look for love and the events and insights of this story remain startlingly fresh. When you add in Jane Austen’s vivid, charming characters, the result is delight from start to finish.”

In addition to clever and beautiful Emma (Daniele Neve), the attractive and enigmatic Mr. Knightley (Brandon Bate), and Emma’s hapless friend Harriet, (Shelby Wyminga), all of Austen’s colourful characters are present in this production.

Two Langley residents take on the most comic roles in the ensemble. Emma’s hypochondriac father, Henry Woodhouse is played by fourth year BFA student Mark Fleming, whose many TWU credits include Romeo in last season’s Romeo + Juliet.

“Playing a character like Mr. Woodhouse is so much fun,” says Fleming.

“He has such a negative outlook on life and romance that we have to laugh at him. But I can relate to him, as well, because like anyone, I sometimes get absorbed in my own little worries. So he helps me to laugh at myself, too.”

Jane Townsend, a second year theatre major who was first seen earlier this year in the student-created work Picture This!, plays talkative spinster Miss Bates, another character who tends to be misunderstood.

“I love Miss Bates so much,” Townsend says.

“She has a good heart but she is socially inept and completely unable to control her tongue which makes her funny and heartbreaking at the same time. It’s a privilege to play such a dear soul.”

The cast of characters also includes amorous vicar Mr. Elton; eligible bachelor Frank Churchill; Emma’s nemesis, the strangely silent Jane Fairfax; charming Mr. Weston, who Emma successfully pairs with her beloved governess Miss Taylor; social-climber Augusta Hawkins; and Harriet’s humble and overlooked suitor, Mr. Robert Martin.

“Austen’s understanding of human nature is unfailing,” says Caleb.

“She depicts people’s weaknesses with such wit and wisdom that we can’t help but love them.”

Emma plays on the Trinity Western University campus, March 12 to 23 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, with 2 p.m. Saturday matinees; special discounts on Tuesdays.

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