This month, I read Jane Eyre for the first time and loved it. I knew the musical existed, but I had never seen it or listened to it. Now that I know how awesome Jane is, I want to listen to the soundtrack and watch some clips on YouTube. I think a musical is the perfect medium for carrying the caged bird metaphor throughout the whole show. Not to mention, older Jane narrating the story to the audience would not be out of place.
To Spotify I go!
The reason I’ve avoided this musical is James Barbour, which is especially relevant right about now. From Playbill.com,
Barbour, AP previously reported, admitted that he sexually touched a 15-year-old female fan when she visited him backstage following a performance of Jane Eyre in 2001 and when she later visited his apartment on New York’s Upper West Side.
Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but Jane Eyre is all about female empowerment, and the actions Barbour took were not. I’d like for it not to, but it definitely has an impact on how I hear him as Mr. Rochester. He does have a beautiful voice, but it’s tainted for me. Now he’s following Norm Lewis’s run as Phantom at The Majestic, and people are not happy about it, myself included. Although Erik is kind of a creeper with regard to Christine, so hey, maybe he’ll be extra good! I am intrigued to see how Phantom’s sales are.
Perfectly Nice is a hilarious song. I wasn’t sure at first how I felt about Mrs. Fairfax being the comedic relief, but if someone has to bring some light to the story, she makes the most sense. This song also made me realize a reason this show couldn’t last: they needed a child who could not only act and sing, but sound fluent in French, and rock a French accent. Those are some HUGE shoes for a little kid to fill. A Slip of a Girl crosses the line a bit. Mrs. Fairfax is a bit too much of a caricature of the novel version. She did actually like Jane as a human being, which doesn’t come across through the second of her songs.
From what I’ve gathered, it seems like Paul Gordon, the show’s writer, did not use the ten years older Jane to narrate, which is pretty disappointing.
Sweet Liberty is probably my favorite song on the album. It’s definitely the only remotely catchy song that I could see myself singing along to.
Overall, I loved that the ensemble songs sounded like a gothic church choir, and the instrumental music was equally gothic. I love the rounds with Jane and Edward. That was hands down the best way to handle their relevant, yet rant-y conversations. It felt like Jane Eyre: The Musical was skimming the surface of the book. It catches the moments, but misses the big themes. I’m definitely glad I gave it a listen, but I’m not going to go out of my way to add this soundtrack to my library.