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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Evolution of Jane Eyre: The Musical Part One: The Demo

This is the first in a series of posts I have put together in order to get some more indepth information concerning my research on Jane Eyre The Musical out of my head and onto this blog. There's so little information about the show available, I hope these posts will be of some use. If there are any questions do not hesitate to comment or to send me a line at bronteana.blogATgmailDOTcom. I have to keep these posts relatively brief because, well, I have written 10 pages on ONE element of the show. So, this is all of an intro I can give you, with that in mind except to say that having written about 15 pages of material for these posts I have lost them. So, if I forget anything there will be another post to fill in the gaps. Hopefully I will find my notes before I move onto Wichita, Toronto, La Jolla, and Broadway.

As far as I know, these demo songs date from 1995 (if I remember correctly). Some are from a later period, although I cannot tell much from this recording since they are out of chronological sequence. In general, the songs are performed on synthesizers, and the composer often sings while the regular cast members only appear briefly (in 'Sweet Liberty'). I have a partial cast list which I will have to post later. Most of these songs were cut by the time the show reached Bway while some remain in the underscore and others are refashioned into other pieces.

Paul Gordon, in an interview, once said that he was inspired within the first 10 pages of the novel to write. The first piece he composed for the work was 'The Parent's Theme.' This song is notable for a hyper-fidelity to the novel which characterises the early stages of the work's development. Jane's parents do not appear in the novel, but they are brought into the musical here in a pivotal way. The song introduces many important elements, themes, and symbols of the work including: caste, marriage, wealth, faith, love, and illness. Jane's father reminds me somewhat of Mr. Grey in that he believes his wife must regret marrying below her station.

Several songs are among the most beautiful written for the show and yet they did not progress into the work as it appeared onstage. One of these songs is 'My Hope of Heaven.' It would be equivalent to Jane's 'feminist on the roof' scene. The interesting thing is that the song reappears as Mr Rochester's proposal ('Second Self'). Having the two songs in the work would have made an interesting sensation. In a very late recording (from about a month before the show closed on Bway), a musical cue marking when Jane first recognises the Master as the Hay Lane Rider is taken from this song's line: "when will I meet a soul of my kind?" But since the song was removed, the moment loses that added connection to Jane's earlier longings. I believe this song is refashioned into 'Silent Rebellion' which I will talk about later, and then finally 'Sweet Liberty' which is one of the demos but which did not appear in the show until it appeared at La Jolla.

One song which should have been cut earlier (it does eventually get cut) is 'A Perfect Match.' It reminds me of Gilbert and Sullivan do Handel's Messiah. There's lightning-quick witticisms about society and marriage, overlaid with manly choruses of 'England is glorious! Long live England! Hosannah!' (The lyrics are toned down a bit later, into 'marriage is glorious' but the song is still irritating). The song, by the way, marks when Mr Rochester's engagement to Blanche is announced. Oh, and did I mention, there are also cymbals?

This is all I have the heart to write, without my notes! I also wished to have a few more clips to show but I forgot to request help in uploading the others- I do have 'My Hope of Heaven', kindly uploaded for me by Thisbeciel. I just recall, I have quite a lot to say about St.John Rivers, so perhaps I will have to run this article over two posts when I get the chance. Lastly, though, 'If You Could See the World' is affectionately known by some fans as 'Rockin' Rochester' since Edward has a bit of a 'rock out' moment there. St.John does as well... The songs all tend to have more of a pop/rock edge than their descendants do.

Songs: The Parents' Theme, As I Lay Myself Down to Sleep, I Suppose Miss Temple, Helen's Death, Jane's Letter, Private Moments, Secret Soul, Wild Boy, Dream of a Child, Forgiveness, In the Light of the Virgin Morning, Secret Soul Reprise, Jane and Hannah, The Things That Might Have Been, The Revelation, A Voice Across the Moors, Return to Thornfield, Finale, Sirens, My Hope of Heaven, Sweet Liberty, The Aristocrats, Restless, A Perfect Match, Miss Grey, If You Could See the World


Anonymous said...

I'm excited! I can't wait to read what you have to say because I don't know very much about the development behind this musical...

~Alayna :o)

Brontëana said...

It's frustrating, isn't it? But I've learned that researching musicals is more than a handful. I know now why so few people do it. I've been working on this for over a year and I still have a lot of blind spots which may never be filled in!