Crazy for Emma! Perspectives Hits All the Right Notes in Spring Musical

Jourdan Zelaya, Opinions Editor

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High school love. It’s one of those intense feelings that many of us experience at least once in our high school career. “Puppy love”, as it’s commonly called, is defined as “an intense but relatively shallow romantic attachment, typically associated with adolescents.” Oftentimes these strong feelings of infatuation are short lived, which is common. These common feelings couldn’t have been embodied better than in PB Perspectives’ pop musical, Emma!

Perspectives came out swinging this year with their annual musical production for the spring season. The show, which ran March 9th and 10th and the 16th and 17th, respectively, had strong performances throughout. One key difference with this musical compared to those of the recent past was that the musical numbers are not exclusive to the production itself. The music in the show is actually covers of pop songs that many of us know and love; songs from famous artists like Whitney Houston and Katy Perry.

Based on Jane Austen’s novel of the same name, the story revolves around the students at Highbury Prep, an elite private school. The protagonist, Emma Woodhouse (senior Kayla Weekes) is an energetic and preppy senior at Highbury who feels like she is the perfect matchmaker in the school. Emma is determined to find sophomore Harriet Smith (senior Samantha Ortiz) a boyfriend. However, Emma’s relentless matchmaking makes it significantly more difficult for her to find Harriet the boy of her dreams.

I have to say, and I’m going to be completely honest when I say this, Emma! is was easily my favorite Perspectives production. Like other productions, Emma! has source material that is derived from a novel, which allows the story to come to life due to colorful stage setups and strong and interesting characters. Emma! was an easy story to follow, with characters that some of us are prone to relate to. There is a recurring gag in the musical where Harriet is seen wooing over any guy who interacts with her in the slightest, from Highbury busboy Martin (senior Aqeel Muthaliff) to senior turned substitute teacher Jeff Knightley (senior Eric Aaron), or “Mr. Knightley” as he prefers to be called. Each time she interacts with one of these guys, Harriet bursts into “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes, which, in my two times watching the performance, left the audience busting out in laughter.

The most memorable aspect of the performance has to be the love triangle that is quite apparent to the audience, but not the characters, between Emma, who is infatuated with former student and now singing sensation Frankie Churchill (Senior Emmanuel Mehari), and Jeff “Mr.” Knightley, Emma’s best friend. Emma spends much of the show convincing herself that she has feelings for Frankie, while it is clear that Jeff has feelings for Emma. This unrequited crush carries throughout the play until Emma finally realizes that Jeff has been the right one for her this whole time; she was just too blind to see it. A notable cameo that I thought was a nice personal touch to the performance was Mr. Weston, a teacher at Highbury, played by PB’s very own history teacher Mr. White, and Miss Taylor, another teacher at Highbury, played by no other than Mr. White’s wife, Mrs. White, ended up falling in love and getting married thanks to Emma’s matchmaking skills. It’s always refreshing to see teachers have just as much enthusiasm about theater as the students, especially when a married couple goes about it together.

Cover songs are a popular trend nowadays and Emma! fits perfectly with that. The show contains hit singles from over the years such as “Roar” by Katy Perry and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper. It is not hard to believe that some of the songs, including Lauper’s, have made a strong cultural impact. Songs in the show range from this decade to songs that date as far back as 1963; there is a little something here for everyone to enjoy.

I know that it can be an emotional roller coaster for the actors as well, especially the seniors who know that Emma! Was their last performance as part of the Perspectives family. “It’s bittersweet and sad knowing that I won’t be with all these people doing what we love anymore,” said Weekes following one of the shows. “But I’m also excited to move on to the next chapter in my life.”

This may be Perspectives’ last performance for the school year, and the last one that I will see, but you can believe that I will still attend plays and musicals in the future for my own enjoyment because seeing my classmates perform with passion and grace is something that I can take pride in as a Paint Branch student. Perspectives and the students’ love for it is just one of the reasons that make Paint Branch, well, Paint Branch. And for that, I couldn’t be more proud.

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