Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

January 23, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 6:46 pm

JE: The Musical 1960s Review.

In a previous post I claimed that there have already been three shows called ‘Jane Eyre: The Musical.’ I find that I am mistaken. I have heard that there have been, in fact, dozens but as I cannot prove this claim I will let it pass. I can, however, name five. There’s, this, this, this, this, and this. All of them are ‘Jane Eyre: The Musical.’ Not all of them are fabulous, and only one has ever been on Broadway (although I came across the mere mention of another which was on Broadway in the 1950s- but there has been no further information on that).

I have now heard several songs from the 1960s version (“The Broadway Theatre Production, London” and was written in the 1960s. Lyrics are by Hal Sharper and Roy Harley Lewis. The music is by Monty Stevens. ). the songs themselves are very catchy but what they have to say about the themes and issues of the novel is really strange at times. There’s ‘Thirty Pounds a Year’ where everyone at Lowood suggests she will meet a rich 80 year old who will die off and leave her all of his money, to which Jane gleefully replies: “All of it?!” Her choice is the 80 year old, or the tall handsome one… ‘Jane’ I have already discussed. It is silly, and begins with Mr Rochester crooning: “I could boot Blanche out, that’s easy as pie.” But I am getting ahead of myself… There’s an odd song for Adele and Jane where Adele is groaning painfully because she is growing: “You’ve only got-” “Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuaargh!” “You’ve only got-” “Oooooohhhhhhhugh!” “You’ve only got grow-ing paaaaaaaaaains!”

However, the strangest part has to be a song called ‘The Very Reverend Rivers’ wherein Jane gleefully envisions life as Mrs. Rivers. It starts off very grim as she contemplates leaving “England and Edward” but this stops very soon. She switches into, well… if this were a film, she would be tap dancing on a huge set with giant pink flamingoes and Fred Astaire would play St.John. There’s ever so little racism in this song as well, with references to ‘copper-coloured faces’ and a wince-worthy bit where Jane imitates people who speak ‘Hindostanee.’ Jane is quite off her rocker by the end of the song- if you don’t mind me saying so. She thinks St.John is going to keep her busy planning a veranda for their cottage and decorating it with plants? Oh, dear Jane. Dear, sweet, deluded creature. Her madness reaches it’s height after she has moved from the lotus leaves on the wall to the hydrangeas, and she muses on someone visiting… maybe someone from Yorkshire… maybe even Edward! This finally snaps her out of it, but the paranoia that somehow Mr Rochester would find her out was just too much after all of that silliness. Still, at least she decides not to go, right?

I look forward to moving on to the Erie Playhouse production. I hear that not only is it an adaptation of the novel Jane Eyre, it is an answer to another musical of Jane Eyre- the Toronto version of the Gordon/Caird show which evolved into the Broadway production (I might call the Toronto version a different show entirely for not only were scenes and songs cut but conceptions of character were radically re-thought).

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2 Comments »

  1. And then there’s the opera by
    Michael Berkeley.

    http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2002/Dec02/JaneEyre.htm

    I own the CD and a copy of Malouf’s libretto and it’s an “interesting” work. But not one I listen to very often.

    Comment by Anonymous — January 25, 2006 @ 1:19 pm |Reply

  2. I purposefully avoided talking about. I want to keep the distinction between opera and light opera- for now at least. I’ve never heard more than a few seconds of a few tracks on the CD. It does sound ‘interesting’. Very atmospheric and very dark.

    Comment by Brontëana — January 25, 2006 @ 11:19 pm |Reply


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