Wuthering Heights as a Musical? Yes, Please!February 18, 2023 14:23 Comments 
I was unprepared when my friend took me to The Chicago Shakespeare Theatre Friday evening to see "Wuthering Heights."
I knew the Emile Bronte novel from reading it years ago. I remember very little of the 1939 William Wyler movie I saw decades ago. But I knew the story. Adopted Heathcliff, abused by his family and neighbors and haunted by the loss of his love, descends into madness and mistreats his own family in his quest for revenge. It is a dark tragedy that takes place on the depressing moors of northern England.
I was not expecting a musical.
This production by the UK's Wise Children Theatre Company is filled with song and dance. But, while the music entertains, the story retains the darkness of the source material.
Although this night's show elevated several understudies, I witnessed excellent performances! Ricardo Castro was brilliant as Heathcliff. We believe he was consumed by his anger and haunted by his lost love.
Among the regular cast, Georgia Bruce stands out in her portrayal of Heathcliff's abused wife Isabella, their sickly son Linton, and one of a group who portray the 18th-century Yorkshire moors.
In this adaptation, playwright and director Emma Rice omitted the character of Nelly, who served as a housekeeper and narrator of much of the story in the novel. Instead, she opted to bring to life the moors, casting multiple actors to speak, listen, sing, and dance as they advance the narrative. This technique works. The anthropomorphic moors frequently break the fourth wall to make sense of a plethora of characters, subplots, and deaths.
The entire performance exceeded my expectations.