Sunday, December 11, 2005

I’m in Love (Again!): Jane Eyre, the Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Yes, you’ve reached the backward boonies of belated reviews. Five years after its rise and fall on Broadway (2000), I offer a brief response to this musical’s cast recording.

No, I haven’t been ruminating over my reaction for five years. (Though, if you know me, that’s not improbable.) As it happens, I only recently discovered the existence of this musical.

My first impression of Jane Eyre, The Musical was not all favorable. James Barbour (as Edward Rochester) seemed to possess far too sweet a voice for such a tormented man. Marla Schaffel (as Jane Eyre) seemed to gasp between her ardent words.

Yes, this love affair of mine had a bumpy start. Partly due to the fact that I was sitting in the passenger seat during a 20-hour car ride. I had collected several Broadway recordings for the journey, and this one, eventually, stole my heart.

Why, you ask?

First, let me confess that, sometimes, on a dark eve, I hear Jane’s voice calling to me. She’s a contradictory but passionate soul whose words strike right through the years between us.

And here, she sings:


Well, women feel as men do
We must engage our minds and souls
Let us, like our brothers
Let our worth define our roles

Breaking custom and convention
Let tradition give way
For we all need our liberty
For sweet liberty we pray

While I might have liked the lyrics to press deeper, darker, I was pleased that this recording captures the humor of Charlotte Bronte's novel (Rochester as the Gypsy, as a playful tease).

Some musicals grow tired with repeated listening, but this one, improved on me. Maria Schaffel paints Jane’s portrait painfully and beautifully, and James Barbour won me over with his lovely and tender voice. In the end, I was stirred by Jane Eyre’s search for self-worth, meaning, and faith.

Yes, it felt right to have Jane speak to me this way.


[The Info: Jane Eyre the Musical (2000), Music and lyrics by Paul Gordon, Book by John Caird, Based on the novel by Charlotte Bronte]


5 repartee:

Anonymous james barbour fan wrote...

my favorite song is "as good as you" by james

i also like how young jane becomes adult jane in the graveyard song

and mary stout is funny as fairfax

12/12/2005 2:57 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Well, this is my first "run-in" with James Barbour (though he's played the Beast in "Beauty and the Beast" and Billy in "Carousel"). In an interview, he discusses portraying Rochester and mentions the humor (which I enjoyed in the musical recording) ...

"I try to bring humor and irony to Rochester. If he is all that stoic, and has no sense of lightness, why would Jane fall in love with him? He is not a wall of stone. His biting wit is a form of self-protection."

The rest of the article can be found at http://bronteana.blogspot.com/2005/10/actors-on-playing-mr-roche_112891748008397874.html

12/13/2005 11:55 AM  
Blogger Brontëana wrote...

Ah, if I remember rightly there were a lot more lyrics to that song. I'm working on documenting all of the stages this show took to this final concept. It's really fascinating and fun stuff!

You might have liked a song which was cut out of the show after it's Toronto run. It was called 'Silent Rebellion'. I particularly liked it because it has a stanza describing Jane's pacing in the passage on the 3rd floor. It is certainly darker. The show was criticised for 'imposing' Feminism on 'Jane Eyre', believe it or not. So I think that accounts for the watered down lyrics in the end product.

Also, I agree about Mr Barbour. I prefer Anthony Crivello's performance which is more gritty, and tormented. (He originated the role).

12/16/2005 4:40 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Imposing feminism, indeed! Hah :) I wish I could hear the Anthony Crivello version and "Silent Rebellion." (But I shall nag you about that on your site -:)

12/16/2005 7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous wrote...

Alas, I wish I could have seen Mr. Crivello in the role. He was my 'first musical' Rochester and he and the Toronto cast recording will always have a very special place in my heart.

I saw James Barbour in the role on Broadway and while I enjoyed his performance very much there was something lacking in it for me. Was he too young, too handsome? Or was I too old? I don't know, I just wish I could have seen Anthony's take on the role.

1/05/2006 3:27 PM  

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