Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

August 30, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 7:33 pm

Readers…

A brief notice that there might not be any posts tomorrow (August 31st). I cannot say for sure if I will have access tomorrow. I am setting out for Halifax to begin my graduate studies. I should have internet access tomorrow evening, and I hope to post then. The second thing is that the internet access I will have upon arrival will cause a few changes around here. There will be a lot of downloads for everyone! I will have a lot of time on my hands at first, so I hope to get the archives in some sort of order too.

There will probably be no further posts this evening either: I’m busy with checking, double and triple checking everything for the venture. It’s a 1000 mile trip!

Duty calls (already!). Until tomorrow, or Friday!

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 8:18 am

Clips from the First Production of Jane Eyre: The Musical, in 1997 at Wichita, Kansas.

Here they are so far:

Opening Song
Naughty Girl
Another World
Forgiveness
Silent Rebellion

The Governess

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 12:23 am

The Most Amazing Thing Ever

At least for me. I did not know, until I interviewed Anthony Crivello that this recording existed. And now, Paul Gordon the composer of Jane Eyre: The Musical has put up one clip from it- a recording of the show’s very first production in Wichita. Yes, this is a video from its pre-Toronto run! With Anthony Crivello. I never thought I’d see this day! And he promises to add more clips in the coming weeks so stay tuned. Believe me, for anyone studying JE adaptations, especially stage productions, this is very exciting.

Here is the video clip from ‘Naughty Girl.’

A very big thanks to Paul Gordon!

August 29, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 5:47 pm

Toby Stephens on Jane Eyre 2006

Two pages of interview plus some interesting info. There’s a lot to take in, and a few things to snerk at (Jane’s ‘mysterious lust object’?!!). Perhaps the most surprising thing is that this article only begins and ends with material about Jane Eyre while the bulk is a bio of Mr. Stephens to make sure we’re caught up, I suppose. And do we have confirmation of the sneer? Aidan, our Cornish correspondent had promised to set up a sneer counter. Oh dear. I give you now some relevant excerpts:

This could be the Mr Darcy moment for Toby Stephens. Eleven summers ago Colin Firth was just another good-looking British actor. Then came the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice. Firth, as Darcy, dived into a lake and emerged, wetly, in a clinging shirt, a star. In a few weeks, the BBC begins its four-part adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Toby Stephens plays Rochester, the heroine’s mysterious lust object. Stephens is 37 (Firth was a year younger), a master of the classical stage who has teetered on the brink of movie fame. Obviously, he is going to be all over the media this autumn, soaking up the adulation, posing for magazine covers, and batting calls from Hollywood casting directors.

[…]

The contradictory aspect of this is that Stephens knows what Jane Eyre could mean for him. He says he grabbed at the chance with both hands. He then worked extraordinarily hard filming it, mainly at Haddon Hall, over a particularly cruel Derbyshire winter. “I remember sitting in the main hall thinking: ‘This is f***ing torture.’ My face was frozen in this kind of rictus and I thought: ‘This is going to be Rochester’s expression. I can’t move anything.’ It was horrible for about three, four weeks and then it slowly started thawing out. By the summer it was the most beautiful place on earth.”
He appreciates that, rictus grin or not, his Rochester will not satisfy all of the book’s devotees. “Every woman has their own idea of Mr Rochester. I’d had this image in my head of him being this rather remote, enigmatic, taciturn figure. And I read the book again and, actually, he never shuts up. He just grinds on and on and on, and he’s actually quite theatrical.”

[…]

I doubt that Brontë lovers will be objective about his Rochester. Controversy may also surround Ruth Wilson, the unknown whom White chose to play Jane. At least, however, having met her briefly on location in the spring, I can confirm that she looks the part. But is the world ready for a ginger Rochester? “Oh, he looks very different from me, I promise. I wore hair extensions and have black, curly shaggy hair. In the book the both of them are quite plain physically. At the time, what was seen as attractive was somebody slim and fair in a cavalry uniform; he was this shaggy, dark, blue-chin, person. But she finds him handsome.”
My bet is that viewers, like Jane, are going to fall for him too, and big time. Let’s hope the news filters down to the other side of the world.

August 28, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 8:52 am

The Harrowing Tale of an Extra in Jane Eyre 2006


“Should that horse be doing that?” This is quickly followed by: “Shut the gate. Quick!” We detect panic.That lippy Lippizaner obviously hadn’t given up!

Thanks to Alison for pointing me towards this amusing story of an extra in the BBC’s new production of Jane Eyre. Not much happens but it is told with great humor. Here are a few exerpts:

After several date and time changes, I trundled up to the film base for my costume fitting. We tried two dresses; the first looked lovely but was declared “too young”. Thank you. The second, a sober black silk crinoline, had been recently used at a funeral and was deemed suitable for an old bag like me.

I cheered up a bit when told that the shawl chosen was used in the BBC’s award-winning Bleak House and worn by Ada, the main character.

[…]

Your abundance of hair, so prized for period television, is wrenched back in a knot and hidden under the bonnet. This is the sum total of “make up”. You, your age, and your naked face, are on display for all to see. It’s a cruel business! Surveying my bulk in the mirror, I remark to Saffi, the wardrobe assistant, that this is one fashion that won’t come back.

[…]

My fellow passenger looks better than me. I discover she is more than 20 years my junior – and has mascara on. I point this out to her and she flutters her lovely lashes in a slightly sheepish, ‘I’ve been caught out’, way. I can’t flutter mine because they are almost non-existent.

But she’s nice and I laugh at her audacity. The make-up woman notices later on set but lets it go. You can’t have two ugly women in a carriage can you? As it turns out, we are to be atop the carriage, which I discover from the coachman, is an authentic mail coach. We have four beautiful grey horses; a Lippizaner and three Andalusians. The Lippi is, by nature and historically, a dancing horse from Vienna. He lives up to his reputation and is an obvious show-off. He likes to go his own way – tricky when pulling a coach with three uppity Spaniards.

Hilariously, we are invited to “hop up” on to the carriage. Hopping up isn’t really an option when attired in crinoline and petticoat but with the willing and chivalrous help of two frock- coated and top-hatted gentlemen (my, they look devilishly handsome), we make it. It’s very high up there and decidedly unsafe with prancing ponies vying for leadership.

The only real worry we have now is whether Lippi might pull us into the pond on the left or the one on the right as we traverse the narrow track between. I consider my escape as we rattle over potholes feeling the lack of suspension with each one. How high, I wonder, can I hoick my dress and will all the crew laugh at me as I try to leap clear in woolly tights and funny boots? Would the corset let me leap anyway? I decide on a better course of action and start to pray. The man next to me mutters that he’s glad he’s insured and that his wife and children would be all right.

[…]

I turn to look at him. He is stony faced and pale, perfect for a Victorian. In the event, they change the horses around and the nippy Lippi is put behind another, more sensible horse. By the sixth take we are, indeed, hopping up and down on the carriage like, well, women in crinolines – very ungainly.

August 27, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 2:28 pm

Jane Eyre 1957 (with Joan Elan and Patrick MacNee)

I have finally had the pleasure of seeing the entire production myself and it has taken me some time to come to conclusions about it. It is one of the stranger adaptations I have come across so far. It is difficult to describe. I suppose there are two approaches going on at once: an attempt to be faithful to the novel and a complete revision of it. That doesn’t make much sense. But it is more or less true. Firstly, most of the main plot elements are removed or changed. Especially anything hidden is revealled- except for Bertha. But the audience is let into the secret before Jane. As soon as Rochester arrives he debriefs Mrs. Fairfax and we learn that Mr Mason is already around, and that ‘he’s her brother’ although we do not yet know who ‘she’ is. Jane is annoying- constantly whinning about Grace Poole and waxing poetic at strange times and always to Mrs. Fairfax.

Character-wise, Rochester has been reduced to a drunken letch and I really don’t see what is so attractive here. Even Mrs. Fairfax seems to admit to a little attraction to him (a little! A very little! But, still…). All of this is balanced by a surprisingly substantial farewell scene which includes several elements entirely missing from all other adaptations. And yet, it still fails to evoke sympathy. Rochester is simply such a boor, and he becomes even more boorish in this scene that I am not sure what the purpose of including it is. (Examples of his boorishness include drinking brandy as if from a fishbowl until he’s so drunk that he very nearly rapes Jane on the stairs when she comes to fetch Adele’s doll- he also may or may not have groped her in the same scene, depending on how charitable you are or upon close examination of angles. Bertha’s attack also looks more like something kinky… and then, in the farewell scene he doesn’t simply muse on how he could crush Jane (but that it would be no use, and he wouldn’t want to do so)- he goes on about how he would completely ‘dominate’ her).

As a consequence of this revision of Rochester, Jane seems extremely stupid and naive. During the attempted rape Jane is pushed up against the banister giving the panting Rochester a lecture on drinking and morality with perfect composure. Her constant declaration ‘I don’t understand you’ is ridiculous, especially if he had just groped her a moment before. But I suppose this all explains how she could return to him in the end.

From this brief outline, you can see that some of it was pretty hilarious. Other parts were too. Especially Mr. Mason. He falls down the stairs all bloody and holding a knife, and tells all of the guests what happened. Rochester runs over and says it was just an accident and everyone believes him! This doesn’t work as well during the proposal. The instant Jane and Rochester kiss, Mason pops up behind them with a sort of ‘what’s all this?’ air and Mr Rochester tries in vain to shoo him away even while Mason is telling Jane all about how he’s married. I think there’s even a Wizard of Oz reference when Jane’s at Lowood and appears at Thornfield (there’s an arial-like shot of a painting of Thornfield, so it appears that she flies in Mary Poppins style) after saying ‘Thornfield, Thornfield, Thornfield!’ (and maybe clicking her heels off-camera).

I think this proves it: loads of text from the book does not a good adaptation make.

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 2:23 pm

BBC Jane Eyre 2006 Tie-In

This is the cover of a new edition of Jane Eyre due after the premiere of the new BBC mini series with Ruth Wilson (seen on the cover).
Thanks to Bronteblog and Thisbeciel (for the tip).

August 26, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 3:22 pm

Janian Media Presentations

I am overwhelmed by the amount of media handed to me this week, mostly thanks to Thisbeciel. Since my earlier post about the Doyle/Harris musical I have been offered a DVD of the production- so watch out for a review of that sometime later. Off the top of my head, there are the two television films from 1957 and 1949 with Patrick McNee and Joan Ilan, and Charleton Heston and Mary Sinclair. There’s the renown Bloom/Quayle audiobook, an opera, a Romanian audiobook (perfect for a family friend…), perhaps a dozen radio adaptations? One of these features Ingrid Bergman as Jane, another has Michael York as Mr. Rochester. On top of this, there’s the BBC radio adaptations of Wuthering Heights, Villette, The Professor, Shirley, and Jane Eyre (with Sophie Thompson and Ciaran Hinds).

Phew.

And that’s just what is relevant to Bronte studies. In addition, there’s this Multimedia Presentation for the BBC’s 1973 mini-series. It is described as a ‘teaser’ of sorts. I have not seen it yet, since I am still on the old dial-up connection but others have complimented it. From the same site there are also three video clips from the 1944 Jane Eyre with Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles here.

August 25, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 8:38 am

Anthony Crivello Talks About Jane Eyre: The Musical

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I have long thought it a pity that there were no substantive interviews with Anthony Crivello, who originated the role of Mr. Rochester in the Gordon/Caird musical (earning a Dora nomination- a Canadian theatre award), currently playing the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Phantom Spectacular’ in Las Vegas. With the help of his assistant, I was able to ask him a few questions (although there were many more things I wished to know!). Anthony is one of my favourite actors to play Mr. Rochester in any medium, so this was a real treat for me to interview him. Thank you, Mr. Crivello! Also, if my readers would like to hear this version of Jane Eyre: The Musical, you may listen and download it here.

How did you go about preparing for playing Edward Rochester?

It was a lovely, ‘building block’ process. About six months after working on the first demo I read “JANE EYRE.” While reading, I searching for those characteristics in Rochester I could relate to… and envisioned (in my minds eye) location, environment, clothing … and the other principle characters (with the descriptions Bronte described. I began to structure all while gathering the author’s (Bronte) intent. I watched the films “Rebecca” (1940) and “Wuthering Heights” (1939 version.) for research purposes. Through “JANE EYRE’s” work shops, “try-outs”and creative journey (which for me was nine years), I continued to build the character, with director John Caird and composer Paul Gordon’s help. I researched the period, appropriate accent ( I did not want to pronounce words accented in a stilted way, and have them not match my singing… so I leaned on the standard Mid-Atlantic accent.)I researched ‘blindness’ and it’s effect on behavior. I am ‘Method’ trained, so I continually try to “stay open” to the spontaneous and see where it might lead me. That lead to some lovely character discovery along the way.

What are your thoughts on the character?

Rochester is of the best characters I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I am very proud of my work on the piece, both on stage and on the album. To this day, I still receive comments about my work in “JANE EYRE” which is a gratifying blessing. Rochester is complex: brooding, humble, arrogant, romantic, heartbroken, intelligent, passionate, funny, tortured, bombastic… all put to beautiful melody, lyrics and dialogue. What more can an actor ask for in a role?

What were some of the challenges of playing the role?

No challenges. Just a day to day delight in the journey of discovery.If there was any challenge, it was balancing the long journey in seeing the piece finally come to creative fruition with my home life. And with the demands of being a stage actor… life on the road proves to be difficult on the personal. It requires a sacrificing, and a continuous search for inner Peace. Great fodder for making Rochester real… but not so delightful in the day to day grind.

Did you have any specific sources of inspiration?

Many. My heroes are of the common … I think those who are fortunate and perceptive enough to experience life’s ups and downs, and wake up wiser are inspiring. I have been lucky to have great teachers and interesting, creative friends… many of whom are so much smarter then me. I try my best to listen when they speak, and ask probing questions.

You were involved with the production at a very early stage. Were there any changes to the interpretation and development of the character of Rochester over that time?

It just kept evolving. ‘Rochester’ somehow stood his ground… so the character lead the way.But I have to say, in it’s early stages, the “JANE EYRE” we did in Wichita, KS. still merits in it’s purity of heart. It was just as loving, just as heartbreaking. The simplistic story telling done at that stage was piercing. Also, I always loved touches like Brocklehurst singing “Naughty Girl” as a solo.To me, it was much more effective, much more defining, and frightening. Also, very early on… had the pleasure of singing early demos opposite Ms. Sally Dworski as ‘Jane.’ Sally is blessed with a nightingale’s voice. Pure, clean, sweet… it just disarms you. I wish you had the pleasure of hearing those very early demos. They were delightful.

Why did you leave the show after its Toronto run?

See http://imdb.com/name/nm0188266/ for the answer.

What are some of your favorite memories of Jane Eyre?

Aaaaaahhhh…. a very easy question to answer. Taking all the “Lowood School” girls out to The Golden Griddle in Toronto for pancakes. I treated about ten of them to “late breakfast’ between shows on a Saturday matinee day. It remains a wonderful memory. They were a delightful, mischievous group, as were Wichita young ladies.

Do you remember any fun on-stage blooper stories you can share?

Please… I would only embarrass myself and damage my ‘sterling reputation.’ Suffice it to say ‘the Gypsy’ was a lot more mischievous ‘beneath the cape’ than what appeared to the audiences. ( Crivello says with a wink and a smile… I can’t give my entire ‘Secret Soul’ away!)

Let me conclude by saying the entire journey was a joy. I was very fortunate to have worked with some wonderful, talented cast members, both in Wichita and Toronto…. and even prior to those performance cities with the early demos. Our crews in both locations were supportive, and caring. We were supported by producers who believed in the show. My experiences with Kathy Haupman and Laura Bergquist in Wichita, KS. and David and Ed Mirvish in Toronto were professional, generous and most appreciated. Our creative team was completely devoted to the project, and I believe their work was splendid indeed. I hope one day to have an additional relationship with what I believe to be a lovely piece of theater, and a beautiful story.

August 24, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 4:36 pm

Jane Eyre: The Musical Classic (Doyle/Harris)


Thanks to Siansaska for bring this link to my attention! I had heard of this musical before, but until now I did not know that more than a few pictures were available online. Here’s the homepage for ‘Jane Eyre: The Musical Classic’ (not to be confused with about 5 or 6 Jane Eyre: The Musicals), with music by Suzannah Doyle and lyrics and book by Kristina Harris. From this site you can gain production rights, listen to some sound clips and more.

The production was staged in 2003. On this website you can see a ton of production photos (which was all I thought was available until now). My computer is too slow to let me listen to the clips but I would love to hear your opinions on the songs!

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