‘Emilie’ play rounds out spring semester

Regan von Richter and crew star in final Schuster show of the year


Schuster Theatre

Reagan von Richter poses in her 34-pound dress, which she wore for the entirety of the show.

Madeline Bruce, editor-in-chief

Gannon University’s Schuster Theatre is rounding out its 2021-2022 academic year show lineup with the production “Emilie: La Marquise du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight.” The play opened April 21 and runs through Saturday.
Written by Lauren Gunderson, “Emilie” is a dramatic comedy that centers around Emilie du Châtelet, a French natural philosopher and mathematician from the early 1730s. After her death, du Châtelet returns and relives her life to determine a winner in the fight between her heart and her mind.
She tries to determine which has more weight in life – love or philosophy – as she relives her life with her husband, her affair and downfall with French writer Voltaire, her work as a woman in the 18th century and the events that made up the end of her life.
Despite being set in the 18th century, Emilie’s story and the lives of the characters, from Voltaire, to Emilie’s daughter Gabrielle, to her later love Jean François de Saint-Lambert, were strangely relatable. Perhaps that was due to the writing of the play or to the acting skills of the cast members.
The role of Emilie was seemingly made for Regan von Richter, a senior digital media and theater technologies and designs major. Von Richter fits right into the character, with an air of independence, intelligence and confidence about her for the duration of the show. Emilie’s sardonic sense of humor is believable and flows easily throughout, thanks to Richter.
At no point in the show does it feel like the role is forced, which is a mark of good acting.
Von Richter also embodies the more vulnerable moments incredibly well, such as the moment of her own death, the fights with Voltaire and a humbling scene with her daughter, Gabrielle, played by sophomore theater communication major Stella Przybylinski.
In the play, Emilie has an affair with Voltaire, which her husband, Marquis Florent-Claude du Chastellet-Lomont, played by Anthony DiFonzo, a senior criminal justice major, knows about but doesn’t do anything to stop.
DiFonzo plays Emilie’s reliable and supportive husband well and makes it clear to the audience that he was one of the only constants in her tumultuous life.
Voltaire, played by Marino Martin, a sophomore theater communication major, is perhaps Emilie’s longest and most consistent love interest throughout the play, as they move into one of her residences together.
There, they work and study together, and all seems perfect to both of them until Voltaire betrays Emilie’s trust and sends the plot of her life into a downward spiral.
In my eyes, Martin plays the perfect Voltaire. His delivery of lines is spot on, and much like von Richter, there is not one moment in which the role feels forced. Martin employs a posh accent and, whether or not he means to, a haughty air about him that brings the French writer to life.
As the fallout reaches its height and Emilie’s life reaches its end, she begins a relationship with poet, philosopher and military officer Jean François de Saint-Lambert, played by freshman Anthony Nuñez, freshman theater communications major, who, like von Richter and Martin, is no stranger to the stage.
Nuñez brings another historical figure to life and characterizes him well as the doting, starry-eyed true love at the end of Emilie’s life.
The cast as a whole did an incredible job of bringing a significant female historical figure and those who lived around her to life. “Emilie” showcased the true talent that is present at Gannon’s own theater.
As von Richter and DiFonzo graduate and move on from their days at the Schuster Theatre, it is no doubt in good hands with the underclassmen who will continue to produce quality shows for the Gannon and Erie communities.
“Emilie: La Marquise du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight” continues this week, with shows at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and a 2 p.m. Saturday matinée show. Tickets are $10, and students receive a 50% discount with their student ID.