Pictured: Stephanie Jones and Vickie Eisenstein. Photo by David Audino

Ahhh, Jane, how you make so many hearts beat wildly with your tales of lost (and found) loves, matchmakers, wards, prejudice, sense and of course, pride and sensibility.

For many of us, we will never look upon a lake and a puffy shirt the same way ever again.

So, is it no wonder that Jane Austen’s beloved characters have been reimagined, adapted, put on the screen and stage, discussed at book clubs around the world and, naturally, improvised?

Yes, improvised. Currently running every Friday night at the McKaw Theater in Roger’s Park is the all-female comedy team known as IMPROVISED JANE AUSTEN.

This long-form improvisational piece based on audience suggestions — and, you guessed it, in the style of Jane Austen — is a joy and the perfect addition to the Austen universe.

On this particular night we were treated to a story based on the words “laughter” and “lamb,” and I remember thinking “lamb” was a rather cruel suggestion, but these women took it, owned it and created some really funny and touching moments. As the head librarian of the manor, Jessye Grace Mueller’s confession of love for Vickie Einstein’s Clarissa drew genuine sighs from the audience it was so awkwardly sweet. Mueller was the Edward Ferras played by Hugh Grant of the evening. She was great.

But so was the rest of the team — knowing when to jump in and out of a scene, paying careful attention to the physical world being created around them, and never being afraid to take an idea and run with it. Plus, they were having fun. It’s great to see that kind of female support on and off stage.

IMPROVISED JANE AUSTEN works, and you shouldn’t shy away if you know nothing about Austen. This is an evening of silliness and indulgence, led by a talented group of strong comedians who make running amok look like delicious fun.

IMPROVISED JANE AUSTEN runs Friday’s in June. For more information visit

About author

Abigail Trabue

Abigail has worked as an actor/director in Chicago for over ten years, and along with husband Jason Epperson founded Lotus Theatricals in 2015, and PerformInk Chicago and Kansas City in 2016 (where she serves as Managing Editor of both publications). When not talking shop, Abigail is raising three padawans with Jason, drinking lots of coffee, converting school buses into RV's, and eating all the foods at Disney World. You can find her on Twitter @AbigailTrabue