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Sunday, April 30, 2006

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.


Anonymous said...

Do you really know the composer Paul Gordon? How have you met him? Did you take an interview or was it just via letters? Sounds very interesting.

Brontëana said...

I do not know him personally, but he often posts at the Jane Eyre the Musical Forum. He knows about my research and consented to answer any questions I have about the show.

Anonymous said...

wow, great!

Anonymous said...

PS: which is the page of Jane Eyre the Musical Forum? Or did you mean this blog?

Brontëana said...

Sorry about that! Here's the link to the forum:


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link!

Anonymous said...

Is this clip available online somewhere? I'd LOVE to see it!

Brontëana said...

It isn't available online yet. But since there is interest in it I will ask my friend Thisbeciel if she would upload it. If and when it becomes available I'll be sure to devote another post to it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you sooooo much! Can't wait to see it! :o)