Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

January 24, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 3:17 pm

The Thin Place by Kathyrn Davis

The last few months have been full of book and film reviews comparing modern works to the Brontes. Just a few examples from Bronteana alone are: Pride and Prejudice being ‘too Bronte’, King Kong being too much like Heathcliff, Memoires of a Geisha being rather Janian, and most intriguingly, The Red Queen– a novel based on a Korean classic likened to Jane Eyre (I have dibs on writing a paper on this one! Well, I can try to claim it…). The list goes on. Here is another. The Thin Place, a novel by Kathryn Davis contains at least ‘a splash of Emily Bronte’:

Three fifth-grade girls go for a walk along a beach and find a dead man. Two of them run for help; the third brings him back to life.

So opens The Thin Place, the sixth novel by Kathryn Davis (“Versailles”), a novelist who has been compared to everybody from Hans Christian Andersen to Franz Kafka.


Partly that’s because of the fluid way she ranges from topic to topic, but mostly it’s because Davis’s writing doesn’t boil down neatly into punchy catchphrases. Plot synopses don’t do her justice, and adjectives don’t really help much, either.

My favorite description of her work comes from a Village Voice critic: “I like to think of Kathryn Davis as the love child of Virginia Woolf and Lewis Carroll, with a splash of Nabokov, Emily Brontë, and Angela Carter in the gene pool.” (I’ll pause for a moment while you try to wrap your head around that one.)

The rest of the article can be read here. …I’m not sure I can get my head around that. Then again, I’ve read two independent reivews claiming King Kong is like Heathcliff, so how difficult should this be to comprehend in light of that?

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 3:03 pm

Jane Eyre at the Lyric Stage, Irving, Texas

I somehow neglected to list this upcoming production of Jane Eyre: The Musical on this post of other productions in the United States (scroll to the bottom of the page). The image is of the Toronto version’s poster!

Lyric Stage takes on the area premiere of this Tony-nominated musical take on the Bronte novel. Through May 13 at the Irving Arts Center. $23-$30. (972) 252-2787.

April 28-May 13, 2006
Lyric Stage closes the 2005-2006 season with Paul Gordon and John Caird’s stirring musical adaptation of the Charlotte Bronte classic, JANE EYRE, April 28-May 13, 2006. Filled with soaring melodies and a romantic lyricism uncommon in the modern Broadway musical, JANE EYRE is a sweeping love story, breath-taking in its scope and beauty. April 28, 29, May 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 & 13 @ 8:00 PM and April 30, May 7 & 13 @ 2:30 PM.

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).

January 21, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 3:26 pm

Jane Eyre meets Frank Sinatra- I mean, Mr Rochester


I would like to make a request to anyone considering making a musical out of Jane Eyre. Please, do not call it “Jane Eyre: The Musical.” There are already three shows by that name, and it makes it very difficult for me to refer to them without confusion! Therefore, I will only refer to the Broadway show as ‘Jane Eyre: The Musical’ and the others by composer and/or date.

So, this is the 3rd Jane Eyre musical I have mentioned on Bronteana. The other is the rather nice York/Williams production from the early 1990s. This one is from “The Broadway Threatre Production, London” and was written in the 1960s. Lyrics are by Hal Sharper and Roy Harley Lewis. The music is by Monty Stevens. I have only heard one song so far: Mr Rochester’s only song, “Jane”. I am wondering if this is a good thing- that he only has one song. I don’t think it is. It would be difficult to come up with a more terrible song, really. But it’s just so funny that I would hate to have to do without it. This sums it up perfectly:

“It’s Mr Rochester singing in a bar, dressed up like Frank Sinatra!”

Indeed, my first impression was that it sounds precisely as though Mr Rochester, in an absent moment strolled past the piano and noticing that he was alone, decided to pretend he was a lounge singer- right down to the ‘dum-dee-dum’ tone of it all and the really bad “Jane, Jane, you’re running through my brain’ lyrics.

I am assured that ‘it gets worse’, and since there’s a song about a servant in love with someone named ‘Gregory’, I am not at all surprised!

The CD is available- in a way- from amazon.com, here.

January 20, 2006

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Filed under: Films,Wuthering Heights — by bronteana @ 5:20 pm


Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie to Star in Wuthering Heights

This was just brought to my attention by BronteBlog. Read all about it in today's issue of Leeds Today. I cannot say that the pairing has ever ocurred to me, but it has potential.

Hollywood megastars Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie are to star in a Yorkshire blockbuster of Wuthering Heights.

The Emily Bronte 1847 classic, set on the isolated Top Withens area of the Yorkshire Moors above Haworth, is the inspiration behind a new, lavish depiction of the gripping Victorian tale.Film chiefs have told the Yorkshire Evening Post 'off the record' that the deal has been done to bring two of the film industry's biggest stars to Yorkshire. Film scouts are understood to have been combing the Yorkshire area in the last 10 days to find the perfect film locations to film the wild, passionate scenes between two of the world's hottest stars, who will play Heathcliff and Cathy, two of the literary world's greatest romantic figures.

They are rumoured to start filming next year and could be in Yorkshire for six months, along with a huge crew and cast. The lid is being kept on details of the deal. Depp, 42, who is a lover of the Bronte's literary works, once said during an interview: "Am I a romantic? I've seen Wuthering Heights 10 times. I'm a romantic."

January 19, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 11:00 pm

Jane’s Journey Part Six

The last of the Broadway Beat transcripts from november, featuring Jane Eyre: The Musical. Here is a short interview with Elizabeth DeGrazia (Blanche Ingram).

Richard Ridge: Where did you start with Jane Eyre? Give me your history.

Elizabeth DeGrazia: In Toronto and I did the production in La Jolla as well, and now I’m here.

Richard Ridge: So, tell me about the character you play.

Elizabeth DeGrazia: She’s extremely over the top and flamboyant. She’s the aristocratic Scarlet O’Hara. She really is. Shes got a good heart but she’s all about wealth and status and really wants to marry this guy. And she comes to Thornfield for a couple of nights and needs an engagement ring- she’s a a bit desperate!

Richard Ridge: That’s the number we saw you do today.

Elizabeth DeGrazia: Yes, she sings really high and tries to be very, very fabulous. And there’s a real parallel between Jane Eyre and Blanche. They have a similar size and look- dark eyes, dark hair but very, very different in character. And you see who wins out in the end!

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 1:17 pm

Some Jane Eyre Regional Shows

ABILENE CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY
ABILENE, TX US From 2/16/2006Until 3/4/2006

BREBEUF JESUIT HIGH SCHOOL
INDIANAPOLIS, IN US From 3/2/2006Until 3/4/2006

EDMONDS HOMESCHOOL RESOURCE CENTER
EDMONDS, WA US From 5/19/2006Until 5/21/2006

MASQUERADE THEATRE
HOUSTON, TX US From 2/2/2006Until 2/12/2006

PULASKI COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL
DUBLIN, VA US From 2/24/2006Until 3/4/2006

QUINCY MUSIC THEATRE
QUINCY, FL US From 2/24/2006Until 3/5/2006

WINNETKA COMMUNITY THEATRE
WINNETKA, IL US From 4/28/2006Until 5/13/2006

courtesy of Mrs. Dionysius O’Gall. And thanks to Agnes, here is the link to the Masquerade Theater.

January 18, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 12:10 am

Some Reassuring Notes for North American fans of Jane Eyre 1973

I have retraced the news of the release of this production through the Brontëana archives (which need much re-structuring, I see) and I can tell you that it appears that the release dates for the DVD are:

[…]

Back in november, there is this post wherein I quoted a letter from the director of programing at Acorn Media, who stated that the dates at that time were still under discussion but that the production was to be released in North America and the UK. Soon afterwards, in december we have this post wherein I reported the news that the release date was May 8th. Thisbeciel, who recieved the initial notice from the director at Acorn Media, reminded me that the release date was May 8th. It appears now we have dates for the region 1 and 2 editions- although this isn’t definate. It seems unlikely that the release date would have been moved up from May to April.

Let me also say, once again, what a great year 2006 will be for Brontë fans! In march Tenant of Wildfell Hall is coming out on DVD, in April and May we have Jane Eyre!

ETA: Somehow I consistently misread the date of the release. There is only one date, and that is MAY 8th, 2006.

January 17, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 6:12 pm

Jane’s Journey Part Five

Nearing the end of transcribing the November 2000 episode of Broadway Beat featuring Jane Eyre the Musical, we have an interview with Mary Stout (Mrs Fairfax):

Mary Stout: I believed in this from the moment I did it at the Manhattan Theater Club reading. I love what it says, I love how it uplifts people. And I think it’s going to be something people remember for a long time. It’s a theatre experience where people get to experience emotions on many levels, on many levels. And I think it’s going to be uplifting to people. You know, it’s a dark story. And that’s a given. She has a lot of things to deal with but hopefully I’ll provide some of the comedy and some of the lighter moments.

You know, this character that I play- the housekeeper- she’s written fairly… she’s not a dark character in the book although she does have a darker edge to her because you never really know what she knows is going on in the house. That’s a question I have personally answered. But everyone always wonders about this. Is she involved in some way? Is she a part of this? Home much does she know? And they took this character and made her a little more comedic than the book does and made her sort of a Gilbert and Sullivan sort of character which I think is such a brilliant idea- to give her patter songs that move the score along and have some brightness and some comedy. And it’s so great that they’ve allowed that to happen. I think there are other shows that do that too- I think The Full Monty has a character that does the same sort of thing. Sometimes stories and shows need that to lift them up. And he’s been incredibly very true to the book in so many ways; very few changes.

Richard Ridge: Tell me about the number that we saw you do today.

Mary Stout: It’s called ‘A Slip of a Girl’ and it takes place after… after the proposal scene- I don’t want to give away too much. After the proposal- and, obviously, she’s accepted, then suddenly there”s a big storm that happens which I think will be very visually exciting I think. Then out of the blue I come out with little Adele- the little ward, and proclaim my problems with the whole situation.

I’m quoting someone. When we were in that city outside this country [Toronto] we’re not supposed to mention that but when we were there, Terrence McNally came to see the show and he’s actually seen the show several times but when he saw the show in that city he said it’s the perfect song because it takes you through an entire story and you get to see a character really turn a corner and make a realization. And he said it’s the perfect song and I thought it is! It really is a lvoely, lovely little piece to character ladies everywhere. I’m very proud to be playing this character.

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 12:57 pm

Jane Eyre 1973 on the Catalogues

As the time draws nearer for the release of the BBC’s 1973 mini-series of Jane Eyre with Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston, we’re glad to report that the DVD is already appearing on internet catalogues. The UK edition will be available for ordering from this website as of May 8th 2006. Also from the website:

It is listed for £14.99.

Their synopsis: Starring Sorcha Cusack (Tame) and Michael Jayston (Flesh And Blood), this 1973 BBC television adaption of the classics novel follows the fortunes of heroine Jane Eyre who begins her life as an orphan without a penny to her name.

Jane Eyre is a poor orphan, brought up by a wealthy Aunt who is determined she should never forget her impoverished background. Surviving the cruelty of an oppressive boarding school, she becomes the governess of Thornfield Hall, owned by the enigmatic and rarely seen Mr Rochester. When Jane finally meets Mr Rochester in the flesh, she is consumed by an overwhelming attraction towards him that soon becomes mutual, however, their hopes for happiness will soon be jeopardized by a terrible secret.

Technical specifications: Region 2.

Thanks to Aidan for the news!

ETA: The date for release is MAY not April 2006.

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