Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

May 2, 2006

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Two More Clips for Musical Fans

Thanks again to Thisbeciel, here are two clips from promotions for Jane Eyre: The Musical. One is the performance of the song 'Secret Soul' from the Rosie O'Donnel show, and the other is a performance of the same song from Bway on Bway. Enjoy!

April 30, 2006

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Old Footage Comes to Light


In the history of a musical, one can never be sure what will come to the surface and when. Yesterday a 14 minute fragment of footage from the Gordon/Caird Jane Eyre: The Musical came to light, out of the depths of fandom where it had been cherished for several years. Only 14 minutes of the production at La Jolla. this production lies at the centre of the massive reconception of the work, when it transformed from 'musicalised BBC drama' to 'Cliff Notes Jane Eyre.' It is peculiar, and any new material is something special. I do have a full audio recording of the work, but it leaves me with more questions than answers.

This clip includes the Gypsy scene and the proposal. The quality is rather poor but good enough to show some of the staging- the elusive chestnut tree for example. Unfortunately the clip cuts off abruptly before the moment the tree is struck- which is something of a mystery to me; how it was done. I asked the composer, Paul Gordon, about this once. He recalled that there were in fact two trees. That they were rapidly switched and that it was 'very noisey'. The tree was so noisey that it 'not infrequently set off the fire alarms' and the theatre would have to be evacuated! Somewhat too realistic, perhaps!

I think the technical demands of using this effect in turn had an effect on the music. There is a strange bit of music during the La Jolla proposal scene which fans of it have mockingly dubbed 'Rochester Triumphant.' Now, the recording is made from the sound board so the effects are always louder and more obnoxious than they would be in the theatre, but 'Rochester Triumphant' features trumpet fanfares and other effects culminating in a shout of exhaultation from Mr Rochester followed by bells and a choir. It is awful, doesn't appear before or after this stage in the show's development. And I think it is all to cover up the noise of the tree.

For those who are curious, the cry goes something like this:

Let fire burn wild and deep,
Raging skies bleed bitter rain
but there is peace, I have my Jane!

This last image is from the gypsy scene and apparently shows Mr Rochester doing his impression of a matador (just to show off his acting ability, of course! His hair is also notorious in this production. It is quite a hideous Zamorna wig) and there's Jane encouraging this sort of behaviour.

April 26, 2006

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Filed under: Audio Clips,Charlotte Bronte,Downloads,Drama,Jane Eyre,Radio — by bronteana @ 5:09 pm

BBC Jane Eyre in 5 parts

Back by popular demand, here are all three parts of the BBC's radio production of Jane Eyre. I do not know when it was produced but I have a feeling it is from the 1950s. This is only a guess. The production features Meg Wynn Owen (aka Megwynn Owen) as Jane Eyre, and Patrick Allen as Mr Rochester. I will say that if this production had been a film rather than an audio recording it would doubtless be one of the contenders for 'best adaptation.' In fact, this production has as astonishing St. John Rivers. Finally, an actor who takes St. John seriously enough to make him a real threat. You truly believe that he could murder Jane and not receive one stain of guilt on his 'crystal conscience'!

The strange omission is that this version actually omits Helen Burns entirely! Otherwise, it is a faithful, moving, and thoughtful adaptation. And, yes, Jane and Rochester are extremely well portrayed as well!

1: http://download.yousendit.com/4405B29B3D313B47
2: http://download.yousendit.com/EC2BBDF307A2FB52
3: http://download.yousendit.com/333276AE45E2C053
4: http://download.yousendit.com/FBC7B38B76B5BCE2
5: http://s61.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=3SHKETUYVNE2I2O64WQ8QFFTRI

April 14, 2006

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"A Reasonably Faithful Adaptation of Jane Eyre"


I think I have a new favourite parody. I'm watching this clip from SCTV, a classic Canadian sketch comedy show. This sketch is called 'Jane Eyrehead.' I can tell you exactly when I decided this is my new favourite parody. It was when Mr Rochester came riding down Hay Lane on an adorable little grey donkey. Somehow he manages to remain completely serious, and quite stately even while trying to keep his legs from hitting the ground and while accompanied by brisk donkey-trotting and cow bell sound effects. This Mr Rochester truly deserves the cuff she gives him. He 's… certainly peculiar. Quite… peculiar. Quite… Jack Benny like. After Jane recognises him she cuffs him and calls him a pig-headed moron. He takes no offence: "You got spunk! I like dat! Si-mone! Come'n out meet your neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew guvness!" he cries, while having a seizure, or flapping his jowls… 'Simone' is rather more advanced than Adele… "Bonjour mademoiselle. I look forward to stimulating pedagogical sessions which will expand both my horizons and your professorial boundaries."

'Reasonably faithful'- nice to have some honesty for a change! Maybe someday we'll have 'nothing like the real thing.' I haven't seen it all, but here you have parts one and two of 'Jane Eyrehead', with Andrea Martin as Jane Eyre, Joe Flaherty as Mr Rochester, John Candy as 'Mr Rochester's gentleman', Martin Short as Mr Mason, and Eugene Levy will be in there somewhere as well.

March 6, 2006

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"Where did you see Latmos?…"

Why, here of course. Thanks to Thisbeciel, we have some clips to show you from the BBC's 1973 Jane Eyre, starring Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston, which is due for DVD release this June. It is much loved for its fidelity to the book as well as for the calibre of the cast.

"I was tormented between my idea and my handiwork. Each time I would imagine something- something I was quite powerless to realise…"

The Interrupted Wedding


As you see, there are other Jane Eyre clips on this site, including the 'Sirens' performance from Jane Eyre: The Musical presented at the Tony awards, for which the show was nominated. Also there is a clip from the Hindi film Sangdil, which I will have much to say about at a later date.

Also, I would like to say that the Brontëana resource site also has a bunch of new etexts, mostly juvenilia but there are also some pieces by Branwell, and Patrick Brontë

I may have to be scarce this week. As I told one of my professors today, my workload for the week will probably reduce me to a puddle of goo by Sunday. At least I have that novel edited and annotated… and a commentary written… and… suggested revisions made… I just have to write the backcover copy, then write a paper on writer contracts, another paper on the Romance of the Rose, prepare for an in-class essay on Beckett, and then prepare for my first real conference! I will be presenting a paper on Emperor Claudius- which is fitting because last night I stepped on a thorn and now I have a nice Claudian limp. Here's hoping that those attending the conference think that I'm trying to be amusing.

February 9, 2006

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'Devotion'

This film, a loosely termed 'biopic' of the lives of the Brontës was filmed in 1946 and starred Ida Lupino as Emily Brontë, Paul Henreid as AB Nicholls, and Olivia de Havilland as Charlotte Brontë.

Thisbeciel calls it: 'A universe where everybody loves Charlotte and everybody loves that sexy man AB Nicholls.' Here is a synopsis of the film:

In the early 1800s, sisters Charlotte and Anne Brontë prepare to leave their sister Emily, their brother Branwell and their aunt and vicar father to work as governesses. Charlotte and Anne want to experience life outside their home as preparation for their careers as writers. Branwell is a talented, temperamental painter who is coddled by his sister Emily, and Charlotte and Anne plan to give the money they earn as governesses to him, so that he can go to London to study art. One night while Bran is getting drunk at a local tavern, Arthur Nicholls, his father's new curate, arrives. Bran insists that Arthur accompany him to the vicarage. At first Arthur refuses, believing that it is too late in the evening, but then, seeing how drunk Bran is, accompanies him. Emily answers the door and mistakes Arthur for one of Bran's drunken friends. The following day, after Bran leaves for London, Arthur reappears. After he is greeted by the unwelcoming Mr. Brontë, Emily's mistake is cleared up and she and Arthur become friends. One day, Emily shows Arthur a lonely house, which has inspired her novel, Wuthering Heights. After some time passes, disillusioned Bran returns home, blaming his sisters for his failure as an artist. Charlotte and Anne also return home. At a dance at the neighbouring Thornton house, Arthur is struck by Charlotte's beauty. When Charlotte realizes that Emily is interested in Arthur, she becomes interested as well…

Thanks to Biedroneczka, I bring you a Lux Radio Theater radio adaptation of 'Devotion' starring Virginia Bruce (the platinum blond starlet who played Jane Eyre in the first talkie of the 1930s) as Charlotte Brontë and Vincent Price as AB Nicholls!

Devotion

The production will be available for download for a week.

January 29, 2006

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Filed under: Audio Clips,Downloads,Music,Music Theatre,Wuthering Heights — by bronteana @ 9:46 pm

Wuthering Heights by Bernard Taylor

This found me by way of Thisbeciel and Biedroneczka. This is yet another musical. Most of the tracks can be downloaded from Mr.Taylor's website, but there is also a CD which I think includes another 15 songs. I am hoping to coax someone into writing a review for Bronteana. For now, I have some initial reactions to register.

Here is a brief intro to the work:

Taylor's musical was the first stage adaptation of the story to be given the approval of the Brontë Society. The concept album was released by Silva Screen records in 1992, and opera star Lesley Garrett also used two of the songs for one of her best-selling solo albums.A 1994 amateur performance in the Netherlands was very successful and generated discussions for possible other productions. It has been running in repertoire in Poland since 1996 and Rumania since 1997. It debuted in Australia in 1998.

The show requires a minimum cast of about 15, but can be expanded to include a chorus of 20 or more. Orchestrations are available for a pit orchestra of 12.

This is the second music theatre adaptation of Wuthering Heights that I have come in contact with. I thought, and still do think, that the novel has a lot of potential for both opera and music theatre. Both of these work best when the emotions stretch beyond the imaginative levels of experience to the mythic. This is why characters in music theatre break into song. But the first version of Wuthering Heights that I heard so failed to reflect the mythic level of WH that it left the whole thing as something of a farce. Heathcliff was far too vulnerable and …well, nice. The music was melodious but lacked depth. I should return to it, because I have only heard some very small selections but these impressions have stuck over repetitions.This production from 1990 is a different story. I am quite impressed with the sensitivity of the score in particular. On the first listen, I was troubled by some of the lyrics but even then I realised that I was simply biased against the very idea of Heathcliff singing. When I got passed that, on a second and third listen, I heard the Arabic rhythms of his theme. I came to think that IF Heathcliff were to sing, he would sing like this. The exclaimations of 'Cathy!' that troubled me before now seem to rumble in the underscore and force their way through into the melody.

Besides this, the songs are beautiful in their own right. In the Prelude there is beauty and a sadness lurking behind it. I get the impression of beginning a celebration and a tragedy. I think this is fitting.

Two of the songs I've gone over are: Cathy! and I See a Change in You.

In addition to Wuthering Heights, Mr Taylor has adapted several other works of literature to music theatre- with equal sensitivity! He has adapted Pride and Prejudice, which captures the period so nicely in its score. The lyrics also are quite good but there's something… off. I think it is his weakest adaptation of those I have listened to so far. He has also adapted Much Ado About Nothing, which I have to admit is delightful. Again, he has managed to encorporate the scales and rhythms popular in the Renaissance into this work. I will take the liberty of recomending Benedick's song on hearing of Beatrice's passion: Madness, performed by Paul McGann as Benedick.

The work has also been the subject of discussion in the journal formerly known as 'Bronte Society Transactions' but now known as 'Bronte Studies.' Mark Seaward, editor of B.S.T. said of the work: "Bernard J. Taylor’s work marks the first time that the true spirit and drama of Emily Brontë’s masterpiece has been captured in a musical." Taken from this page, also on Mr.Taylor's site.

Critics on Wuthering Heights by Bernard Taylor:

"Bernard J. Taylor's big, sweepingly romantic score sustains a feeling of dark passion entirely appropriate for an adaptation of Emily Bronte's novel concerning the ill-fated love between Cathy and Heathcliff." – Show Music Magazine, USA, Summer, 1992.

"This is what stage music should be – passionate, powerful, melodic . . . If you buy only one album this year, make it this one – Mike Gibb, Masquerade Magazine.

"Every number, whether vocal or instrumental, packs the kind of emotional punch that musical performers and audiences cry out for." – Sarah Hopkins, Beneath the Mask, Summer 1994 issue.
"Something to shiver about!" – House & Garden (British edition), March 1992.

January 12, 2006

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More Video Clips from JE the Musical and Transvestism in CB

This is sure to please Esther! Thanks once again to Thisbeciel for these clips from the Jane Eyre Musical! Some of these are repeats from the last time, but I don't think anyone will mind too much?

An Icy Lane
You examine me
Waking Rochester
I know who heals my life
the Gypsy
the Proposal
Wild Boy/Farewell Good Angel

Thisbeciel also came across this interesting poem, 'Transvestism in the Novels of Charlotte Bronte' by Patricia Beer

1 When reading Villette, Shirley and Jane Eyre,
2 Though never somehow The Professor
3 Which was all too clear,
4 I used to overlook
5 The principal point of each book
6 As it now seems to me: what the characters wore.

7 Mr Rochester dressed up as the old crone
8 That perhaps he should have been,
9 De Hamal as a nun.
10 There was no need
11 For this. Each of them could
12 Have approached his woman without becoming one.

13 Not all heroines were as forthright.
14 Shirley in particular was a cheat.
15 With rakish hat
16 She strode like a man
17 But always down the lane
18 Where the handsome mill-owner lived celibate.

19 Lucy, however, knew just what she was doing.
20 And cast herself as a human being.
21 Strutting and wooing
22 In the school play
23 She put on a man's gilet,
24 Kept her own skirt, for fear of simplifying.

25 Their lonely begetter was both sister and brother.
26 In her dark wood trees do not scan each other
27 Yet foregather,
28 Branched or split,
29 Whichever they are not,
30 Whichever they are, and rise up together.

January 11, 2006

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Beginning of a Friendship- and Really Bad Films and A really Good One.

Yes, I'm still here! Nothing happened- I just went back to school. 😉 In fact, I've been applying to the first of my three graduate programs. So far, so good! i do have some off topic notices for some of my readers, which I will take the privledge of including in this 'public' part of the weblog. If anyone has emailed me in the last little while, be informed that my browser is not allowing me to check my email often- this happened nearly all week. Now that I'm at the university this shouldn't be a problem, but in case you are wondering why I have not written back, this is why. For others, my book was in the press on Monday and I should have a copy of it tomorrow! I'll see about the particulars for those who would like a copy of some really bad poetry.

Speaking of the editing class, I am now taking the Publishing course. We were asked to introduce ourselves and tell the class a few things including what in our opinion is the worst book to film adaptation. I'm …proud? to say that the Brontes managed to get two out of the 20 bad films mentioned! The first was an unspecified "Withering Heights" (which was once a parody of Wuthering Heights– but I am pretty sure he didn't mean that)and then the 1970 version of Jane Eyre with George C. Scott (that would be my declaration ;). Actually, no, there were three. I went on to explain that I usually enjoy bad films so long as they are bad in the right sort of way- and when they asked me for an example, why, I had to mention the 1997 Jane Eyre with poor Samantha Morton and Ciaran Hinds. What a horrid screenplay. But so funny.

Thanks to Thisbeciel from the League of the Extraordinarily Rochester Obsessed, I can at least bring you an unhealthy number of screencaps from the 1983 version of Jane Eyre, with Zelah Clarke and Timothy Dalton!

JE 83 Ep 1-2 Episodes 1 and 2 obviously. There are 53 pictures.
JE 83 Ep 3-4 94 pictures
JE 83 Ep 5-6 111 pictures
JE 83 Ep 7 76 pictures
JE 83 Ep 8-9 87 pictures
JE 83 Ep 10-11 95 pictures

December 19, 2005

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La Jolla Jane Eyre Part Two

And here's the rest of the show! I hope you all enjoy it.

Disc Two

track 1
track 2
track 3
track 4
track 5
track 6
track 7
track 8
track 9
track 10
track 11
track 12
track 13
track 14
track 15
track 16
track 17

And…

Disc Three*

track 1
track 2
track 3

*I remember one of my friends trimmed a few tracks so that the whole thing fit onto 2 discs. If anyone would like the trimmed version let me know. I think it cut off the applause and things like that.

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