Friday, September 27, 2013

Jane Eyre (The Musical): A Dream Cast by Melody and Amy

Thirteen years ago there was a new musical on Broadway, the leads played by Marla Schaffel and James Barbour (pictured on right).  This musical, as you have probably all apprehended, was an adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's classic Jane Eyre.  They made a gorgeous cast recording, but that, precious few pictures, and some low-quality videos from camera-sneakers are all that are left to show for it.  Since then the musical hasn't been resurrected besides various high school productions, songs being performed at recitals, and so forth. 

And why, we ask?  The music is lovely (much of it very delightfully accurate to the novel--you can listen to the complete playlist here) and the story is a timeless winner.

As to Jane Eyre itself--oh sure, there are about ten film adaptations out there, so somebody must have finally perfected it, right?  Um, wrong.  The sad fact is that with all those movies (and even several miniseries), none of them are without lots of negative points.  Nobody has really captured the novel yet--the newer ones seem intent on either giving it a fresh and new (or just different) perspective, or they just don't make it long enough to get the details.  On one hand, this is almost nice because even if you've seen some of the movies you can read the book and discover that it's even better. 

But still.  Such a famous work of literature deserves a outstanding adaptation, and yet they've almost dabbled around too much to ever do it now.  It would be kind of like "a new Jane Eyre, again? What will they do to it this time, for pity's sake?" (Not to say we still wouldn't enjoy the elusive close-to-perfect adaptation, though.) 

So this is what we think: the people responsible for such things should take this hidden gem of a musical and make it into a movie.  That would be so different that it wouldn't seem redundant, yet because of how good the musical is, it would definitely count among the others as an adaptation of the book.  It would be that fresh perspective they keep trying for without changing the book and dismally failing in the eyes of the Jane Eyre fans. 

To the point.  As part of Miss Dashwood's "Celebrate Musicals Week," she and Melody have decided to compile a dream cast (and other tidbits on what they'd do could they be in charge of such a production).

So, without (even) further ado... ladies and... well, probably mostly ladies... let's welcome The Cast!

Mr. Rochester

Ramin Karimloo.  The end.

Just kidding, there's no way we're leaving it at that, but going on further presents a great danger of gushing because we are reallyreallyreally excited about this choice.  Seriously, HE WOULD BE SO PERFECT.  The only objection we could think of is that he... isn't ugly. :P  But hey.  He can be dark, mysterious, and brooding, without looking that way all the time (Mr. Rochester is moody, which means, you know, that his mood varies, and he can be humorous many times as well).  Also emotional and dramatic.  (We've seen Ramin as The Phantom so we know very well that he can do this.)  Plus, his looks are rather irregular, and during that time period this didn't seem to be considered handsome.  So we're satisfied. :D

See, look, he's brooding.
Besides, this idea was what got this all started to begin with.  The two of us were watching this video when Amy pipes in with "You know, he would make a good Rochester..." and so it went from there. 

Did we mention about his voice fitting the role perfectly?  No?  Well... THAT TOO.  (If you want to hear one of the Mr. Rochester songs, go listen to "As Good As You," and of course he's in others that will be linked to throughout.) 

Jane Eyre

We had some struggles finding the perfect actress for Jane.  There are lots of incredibly talented young women singing on Broadway and the West End and whatnot-- we briefly considered Jennifer Damiano, Sofia Escobar and Cristin Milioti, even bandying Claire Foy's name about at one point though she's not a singer.  Yet we still couldn't find a petite, preferably dark-haired actress who wasn't strikingly pretty, could sing in a comfortable mezzo/alto range without sounding too modern and was the right age to play Jane (under 25 at least, but ideally we wanted someone 18-21).

So guess what we did?
We cast Melody.

I mean, hello, she's definitely on the shorter side (5'3", which isn't quite as small as we imagine Jane to be, but good enough especially considering how tall Ramin Karimloo is), she can sing in a lovely classical style (yes, she can, don't let her tell you otherwise), she's dark and has an old-fashioned look about her AND she's quite familiar with the role and could play Jane as she ought to be played.  To perfection.  Jane needs to be portrayed by someone who can put the proper amount of emotion into "Secret Soul" and "Painting Her Portrait," someone who also has a good sense of humor and can banter with Mr. Rochester without seeming overly somber, someone who can bemusedly tolerate the old gypsy woman and then be justly annoyed when the fortune-teller's identity is revealed.

We think Melody is the best choice.  (Well... Amy does.  Melody agreed as a last resort, having only brought up the idea as a joke in the first place.)

However, if you have other suggestions for the part of Jane, please do share them in the comments! That goes for any of these choices, of course-- well, except for Mr. Rochester.  Ramin Karimloo's our final decision.  :D

{As you've probably guessed, Amy wrote the above segment.  Just so you all know that Melody is not in the general habit of going around and boasting about herself.  And yes, Melody is writing this bit right here.  Your powers of deduction are astounding.}

Blanche Ingram

Another choice we're excited about.  This time we've decided to cast a Regular Actress and dub her voice, so we're going with Emily Blunt to act the part, and Sierra Boggess to sing it.  (We considered having Sierra play the part in general, but we know very well that people would then be of the opinion that Mr. Rochester should have married her, cough cough cough, and That Isn't Happening.)  Emily's role as Queen Victoria is what originally made us consider her (it's around the same time period, you know), but we can really see her pulling off the facial expressions and snobbishness while having the general grace and beauty that is Miss Ingram.  And she looks like she could be twenty-five even if she's actually a bit older.  As for our Voice Choice, Blanche requires a strong classically-trained soprano (this is apparent in "The Finer Things," and she also sings with Jane in "In the Light of the Virgin Morning") and Sierra Boggess has the right sound.

Mrs. Fairfax

Mrs. Fairfax's character in the musical tends to annoy us--she's really quite different from the Mrs. Fairfax of the book, but unfortunately we can't make any major changes to her character without changing her songs as well, and we don't wish to do that.  So we'll just have to deal with what we've got.  We picked Angela Lansbury for this part--she may be a bit older than what Mrs. Fairfax is supposed to be, but she still has a pretty strong voice and we think she could do an excellent job with "Perfectly Nice" (the song that annoys us the most, haha) and "A Slip of a Girl" (in which Mrs. Fairfax is, er, more unkind than she is in the book).

Mr. Brocklehurst

For the stern, affectedly pious, just plain mean and excessively irritating superintendent of Lowood School, we chose Philip Glenister.  We've seen him in Cranford as Mr. Carter, who isn't a mean character, but we definitely think he could do it.  (In most pictures of him he looks stern and scowling as it is.)  Mr. Brocklehurst's part does require some singing in "Children of God," and for that we want James Barbour to do the dubbing, as he played Mr. Rochester in the original play.  Bit of fun trivia-ish-ness, you know, and besides, he has a very good voice.  (We won't bother linking to a song for him because you can just go listen to Rochester's songs, after all.)

St. John Rivers

We do not like St. John Rivers.  St. John is stupid.  In fact, to paraphrase Mr. Palmer, St. John is as stupid as the weather. (No offense, weather.  You're pretty nice right now, at least where Miss Dashwood lives.)  But despite our dislike of the character, we understand that it's important to cast someone who can manage to look saintly and preferably kind of Grecian-ish, and though St. John's singing part in the musical isn't our favorite, he also needs to be a good singer.  Killian Donnelly has played Enjolras on the West End, so he has the Greek god thing down pat, and he manages to look Youthful and Innocent and Idealistic and all that as well.  Plus he has a great voice.  The only danger here is that we (read: Miss Dashwood) might end up liking St. John by the end of the movie.  Ooopsie. 

Mrs. Reed

For the horrid "Aunt Reed" we have chosen to cast Polly Walker. Just because she was the best candidate we could find at the time, haha.  (We've both seen her in Emma (1996) as Jane Fairfax, and Melody has also seen her in The Mayor of Casterbridge (2003) and a random episode of Poirot which she doesn't remember very well.)  We thought Stephanie J. Block could do a good job with the vocals for this role (skip to 1:20 in the video to actually hear her sing), as she has the "belting chops" necessary to make Mrs. Reed sound somewhat frightening as she ought to be.

We also intend to change up Mrs. Reed's part a little in our version of the musical-- she should just be In It more in general, and we want to have Jane's uncle leave her the money instead of having Mrs. Reed do that.  Because, hello, that's totally out of character and completely different from the book.  And in case you hadn't noticed, we believe in sticking to the book at all costs.

Bertha Antoinetta Mason

Nope, your eyes don't deceive you-- we chose Anne Hathaway for this role.  She might not be the first person to come to mind when one thinks of Mr. Rochester's crazed first wife, but we think a fair amount of makeup could give her the proper scary face.  (With a lot of wild, frizzy hair in the face.)  Plus, Bertha is supposed to have been very beautiful when Mr. Rochester first married her, and in some film versions they portray her as still beautiful (though this isn't accurate to the book).  Bertha doesn't sing much on the cast album, but she does have a cadenza of sorts in the background at the end of "Sirens," and she also appears in a few songs that aren't on the album (snifffff...) such as "The Fire" and "The Scream."  And, of course, after Les Mis came out last year we definitely know that Anne Hathaway can sing.

Richard Mason

We considered casting a singer for this part, because he does have a song, "Poor Master," towards the end.  However, that's just in the cast recording, and in the actual play apparently it's Mrs. Fairfax who tells Jane what happened to Mr. Rochester, and we would prefer it that way (even though in the book it was just a random guy in the village who ran the inn or whatever).  So we poked around at actors and decided on Rupert Friend (Wickham in P&P05 and Prince Albert in The Young Victoria). Just because we wanted to.

Young Jane & Helen

Ha... we really have no ideas here.  We're really rather ill-versed in the subject of young female singers and actresses.  We considered Lucy Boynton for one of them at first, but to our chagrin remembered that she's actually old enough to play Adult Jane now.  Heehee.  Suggestions from our lovely readers?  Hmmmm?


Nine-year-old Ava Della Pietra is our choice for Adele-- she looks a bit young for the role, perhaps, but have you any idea how hard it is to find good actresses/singers under 14 these days?   No?  Obviously you were not paying attention during the paragraph about Helen and Younger Jane, then.  Anyways, Ava Della Pietra played Little Cosette in the stage production of Les Miserables that Miss Dashwood saw earlier in the year, and she has a fantastic voice for such a wee thing.  Plus we think she has a good face for Adele. 

Miss Scatcherd

Miss Scatcherd doesn't do much singing, so we thought it reasonable enough to cast a non-singing actress who could then be dubbed for her brief appearance in "Children of God."  So we chose Juliet Aubrey, whom Melody has seen in The Mayor of Casterbridge, to do the acting bit.  As for who should dub her, we thought Christine Andreas could do a good job with the Mean Vocals.  Heehee.  Her voice has a rather operatic quality, but Miss Scatcherd could totally sound diva-ish if you think about it.

It's a pity that we aren't Real Professional Movie-Makers, because this film has the potential to be sensational.  We'd make a few changes to the original libretto, of course--one thing being that it would be tweaked wherever possible to include more quotes from the book; even in some of the songs, during the dialogue where they're not actually singing. For instance, in "The Proposal,"  Jane says, "For here I have talked, face to face, with what I reverence, what I delight in... with an original, a vigorous, an expanded mind. * But I see the necessity of departure, and it is like looking on the necessity of death."  The line could be straight out of the book, if this was added where the asterisk is placed: "I have known you, Mr. Rochester, and it strikes me with terror and anguish to know that I absolutely must be torn from you forever."

Not too much in that song, unfortunately, could be added without the background music being changed, but there could at least be small things like that; and then towards the end (around 5:04) Jane should do a little of the asking if he is in earnest and having him swear it before she does the "I will marry you" bit.

After the wild success of the live singing in the 2012 Les Miserables film, we think that as much of this movie as possible should be sung live.  Of course the bits that are dubbed by other singers ("Children of God," "The Finer Things," &c.) will have to be prerecorded, but songs like "The Proposal" and "The Pledge" ought to be sung live if at all possible since they are so interspersed with dialogue, and whichever ones require more Acting. This will give the actors a better opportunity to be Emotional and Dramatic during those songs.  Lovely soaring orchestrations, of course, will be added later. 

As for the rest of the creative team on this project, we need to find a good director who has experience with musicals but understands about staying true to the book... Tom Hooper, perhaps?  We're not allowing Joel Schumacher (directer and writer of the 2004 Phantom of the Opera movie) within a fifty-mile radius of this film, of course, even if we are writing the script ourselves.  It wouldn't be a bad idea to have a BBC period drama director on board as well, just to balance things out and be sure the film stays accurate (though Andrew Davies and his silly Scenes of Sensationalism will be banished along with Joel Schumacher).  Filming will all take place in the English countryside, naturally.  And since Amy's rather jealous of Melody getting to costar with Ramin Karimloo act in such a delightful movie, she is going to be Wardrobe Mistress and design/create all of the costumes.  She is currently planning a delightful sort of waistcoat for Mr. Rochester to wear... red and gold go together quite well, yes? ;)

We just wish it could really happen... do we have any multimillionaires in the audience who might care to fund this project and convince all our stars to play the parts?  Hmmm?

And what think the rest of you?  Would not this be delightful?  Do any of our choices please you?  Have you listened to any of the musical in question?  Because if not, you should. :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"Celebrate Musicals Week" Tag

(My posts should really win an award for originality in titles. :P Heh.)
Yet Another Period Drama Blog

It's the week for celebrating musicals over at Yet Another Period Drama Blog! You can read all about it by clicking the picture above (and going here to the details page), so I won't bother with a long intro, and just get to the questions... oh, and you can get to the tag here.

1.  What musical did you pick to "spotlight" this week and why?
My Fair Lady.
Because Amy told me to.
Heh, heh, no, she didn't actually... she just said she thought I would, and then I was like, oh yeah, duh... 
This is the only one I really know enough about (or that there's enough material out there to work with) to spotlight besides for Phantom of the Opera, and she is doing that, and our opinions are similar (well, to the best of my knowledge) so it might be a little redundant... ;) So just go read her stuff. And anything I disagree with will probably be animatedly stated in the Comments section. Ha.

I'm actually not sure at this point whether I'll be able to do more posts or not, but our Event Leader told me she wanted me to do the tag anyways, which I'm glad about because it looks like fun. :)

2.  How did you discover the musical you picked (hereinafter referred to as "your musical")?
It's either a long story, or I make short stories long... the latter is very probable. But here we go.

"My Fair Lady" is, of course, one of those names you hear around all your life.  When I was little it always made me think of the London Bridge song/rhyme. (You know, "take the key and lock her up, my fair lady!" I also used to think it was London bridges falling down rather than London Bridge is falling down... um, rabbit trail.) 

Anyway, I had some sort of mistaken notion about what it must be; the title was associated in my mind with all those pictures you see around of Audrey Hepburn in a form-fitting, black evening gown 
with her long cigarette holder. :P Obviously I had a lot to learn. I might have asked my mom about it at one point, but she is... not a musicals person. So that conversation, if it took place, was not at all memorable.  The first time I heard of it as something I might actually be interested in it was when Amy asked me if I'd seen it, eons ago in the beginning of our correspondence. ;) She said she loved it, which piqued my curiosity, but I knew that she was way more into Musicals Stuff than I was, and it must just be a point in which we weren't alike. Well, you know, there has to be some things. ;)

Thennnn like less than a month later I was over at a friend's house to watch... something... oh, North and South, it was (I introduced her to it, heehee) and afterwards her mom said that the next movie we did should be My Fair Lady, and asked if we'd ever seen it. (My mom was there too.) On hearing we hadn't, she asked if we were liked Wordy Things, which we DO, and then she proceeded to talk about the storyline and how amusing it all was and I was kind of like, hey, that actually DOES sound interesting... and at some point I found out it was set in the Edwardian era, which pretty much settled that I wanted to see it at some point. Before I'd assumed it was just set when it came out, ha ha ha. (Told you I had a lot to learn. Don't laugh at me.) 

That was in December and I didn't end up actually watching it till March (of 2012). I took it upon myself to get it from the library, much to the skepticism and amusement of my parents, and, armed with a list of song suggestions from Amy (that is, what I Shouldn't Skip... see, I had the habit of fast-forwarding through most of the songs in musicals *runs and hides*), I sat down to watch it. 

I found myself loving it, which I totally hadn't expected. I thought I might like it--I was hoping I would--but it exceeded my expectations. :D  My dad and brother came in during "Show Me" and were making Remarks which I did not appreciate and I was like "you can't judge this because you don't know what's going on, go away and leave me in peace and don't make fun of my movie." And that's when I realized how much I actually liked it. Because it turned on my Defense Mode. ;) (And, by the way, I totally converted them after that. Watched it with them and they were highly diverted. Even my mamma enjoyed it. Don't get me wrong, my mom has a lot in common with me when it comes to movies... but not musicals, haha.) 

And since then MFL has somehow become a special Thing with Amy and me and we consider it to be "our musical", so... that's definitely a fond connection. :D

3.  If you had to pick three favorite songs from your musical, which ones would they be?
Oooh. So, with this musical pretty much the ones I like are all on a similar standing, buuut I guess I'll say--
"Without You" (it's just so funny :D)
"I Could Have Danced All Night" (it's so catchy and fun, not to mention it seems to be the Main Theme)
Aaand I can't decide between "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" and "Just You Wait"... it depends on my mood at the time. If you know those songs I'm sure you will observe the difference between them, haha.
And as far as the tunes go, I really like "On the Street Where You Live". That would be in the top three if we're looking at instrumental versions, haha.

4.  What's your least favorite song from your musical?
Without a doubt mine is 116 (coughsorryS&S95gotintheresomehow) "Get Me To the Church On Time". I've never even listened to or watched it all and I probably never shall... unless it's a live performance or something in which case I suppose it would be hard to avoid. :P

5.  Who are your favorite characters (choose up to three)?
Well, I do like Eliza herself. I also love Mrs. Higgins, even though there isn't much of her. I have to wonder how Henry turned out the way he did with such an awesome mother. :P Anyways, and then... um... well, Professor Higgins is funny buuut he also annoys me easily, so I guess I'll say Col. Pickering. Call me boring, but I like nice guys. (Although even he is not without his annoying moments, haha.)

6.  Which versions of your musical have you seen/listened to, and which is your favorite?
The classic 1964 film, obviously; I've listened to most of the Original Broadway Cast with Julie Andrews, aaand last year I listened to the live Royal Albert Hall broadcast (well, on the internet) with Amy, Anne-girl and Alexandra. Anthony Andrews was Henry Higgins, and so the fact that I did not blend into the A Group (I mean, look, those names were five A's in succession...) was not the only reason I felt a bit Different, as they were all swooning over Anthony Andrews. :P But it was still a lot of fun. (You can read Amy's account of it here and Ally's here.)

And my favorite would just have to be the movie. :)  Oh, but I do think Anthony Andrews was the best Higgins. This I shall admit. I really wish we could have actually seeeen it though. (And actually seeing Alun Armstrong--see, what is up with all the A's???--as Alfred (A again!) P. Doolittle would have been really cool.)

7.   Is this your favorite musical of all time?  If not, what is?
Ummm... possibly. But then again, perhaps not. Because most of it would probably get old too fast even though I really like it. But I don't knowww what my favorite is. Based on recent inclination I would say Phantom of the Opera. But I still don't know. I also love the Jane Eyre musical to bits and pieces, but unfortunately all that's available is the original cast recording and some pirated videos on YouTube. (Bring it back, Broadway. Pleeease. Better yet, somebody make a movie. YES. Pleaseplease. More about that later this week hopefully. :D) And I do like Les Mis more than I used to but I feel unable to judge that one objectively. Hahahaha. Plus, I think that if I was Fan Material I would have already become one, as from what I see it tends to happen to most people with alarming rapidity. Their worlds are changed with just one burst of light, you know, and they did not live until that day, etc, etc.  And I think there's already been opportunity for that sort of thing, soooo... anyways.

8.   Which cast album/musical soundtrack in your collection do you listen to the most?
It depends on how you would define "in your collection," haha. But most recently, probably the 25th anniversary of Phantom. Not quite as much really lately, though. I had to re-do my entire Favorites List for the JA week I did and then when I was replacing my old favorites not as many made it back on, simply because I'd been listening to them so much before that. 

9.   What is your favorite costume from your musical?
The purple "Just You Wait" dress.  I. Love. That. Costume. Give to meeeee. I actually really like most of Eliza's everyday-ish dresses. The ballgown, not so much... and don't get me started on the Ascot dress. Ugh. That thing is an eyesore. 

10.  If you could change anything about your musical, what would you change?
Mmm... I'd take out my least-favorite song (see above) entirely... it's completely unnecessary. I would also make Mr. Doolittle's other song shorter so I wouldn't have to fast-forward through as much. HA. I mean, you kind of have to have some annoying stuff so you understand his character, but it really didn't need to be that long.  I would also take out swearing... I'm looking at you, Professor Higgins. :P  (Although it's kind of funny if you have Amy there to mute it dramatically at precisely the right moment. :D)  I would say that there should be more explained at the end, buuut... after learning more about the original play and whatnot I actually think it was pretty clever of them to leave it the way it was. 
Oh, and I'd changed the Ascot ensemble. Haha. :D (And WHY does it have to become the 'famous' costume?) This one would have been a much better choice, why didn't they use it?? And her hair at the ball shouldn't be so... scary.

11.  Which role(s) would you most like to play in any musical, if you had the opportunity to do so on stage?
Ooh! Good question. This thought didn't occur to me until recently, but I think I would go with Jane Eyre. For numerous reasons.
~I love her songs. 
~They are not in high keys. The lower notes would be more of a problem, actually, but I think I could do it.
~It would be amazing to be Jane Eyre in any play and especially in a movie-- haha, we're talking pipe dreams here, right? It's such a powerful story and I really do love Jane.
~I'm actually short enough. I still don't think I'm quite as short as Jane should have been, but a lot closer than most.  I rather hope I'm not as 'plain' as Jane is supposed to be, but I probably have a suitably old-fashioned look. ;)
~The costumes would be interesting. :D And the time period and all that. And the sets would be delightful.
~I mean, how cool would it be to actually be the title character in something???
~I'll shut up now. :) 

The kissing would be a problem, but maybe some stage trick could be worked out.

Other than that... well, it would be super fun to play Eliza. :D (The horse race scene, though, would be... um... awkward.)  I've also contemplated if I could choose any character in POTO who would I be, and though it would be fun and dramatic to be Christine there are too many things I would object to, so I was actually thinking Meg... hahaha. (But only if the costumes at the beginning were changed.) I mean, she's not a big part, Angel of Music is practically her only song, and the prancing around singing "He's here, the phantom of the opera!" gets a bit ridiculous... but sometimes it's fun to be ridiculous. And the whole show would end with the spotlight on me, haha. ;) But wait, she's a ballerina... eh, never mind. There is no way her costumes would be Enough to satisfy me. Haha. Ignore me...

Anyways. Oh, and I actually think it would be rather swellissimus to play Eponine (other people saying so is catching, maybe), but pretty much just in theory because in reality I would feel undeserving of the role. "LOL, JK... here's my friend Amy, let her do it instead." :P And even though the character herself doesn't have to do anything questionable, I don't know how I'd actually feel being in a production that had things I disapproved of (so the same thing goes for Phantom, I guess). Something small-scale and with some changes made might be different...

And although I'm not overly impressed by any of the Jane Austen musicals, if I got to be in one you wouldn't find me complaining. I mean, helloooo, a being in a JA production of any kind would be so MAJORLY EXCITING. S&S would probably be my choice since I'm more acquainted with it than others and I do like a number of the songs. :) (If only they had orchestral backgrounds replacing the plinky piano...)

12.  If you could choose one performer to play any part in your musical, who would you choose and which part would you have them play?
Um... haha. I am not at all creative when it comes to that kind of thing. So I'll just wait for someone else to make a brilliant suggestion and then say "oh yeah, duh!!"

13.  Do you consider yourself a musical theatre fan in general or do you just like a few musicals?
Wellll, my automatic answer would be that I just like a few musicals, but now I think it might kind of be in-between the two. (And I'm not even going to pretend it isn't Amy's influence, because I know it is. Heehee.) I've actually come a long way, which I freely admit. Like, if somebody were to say "do you like musicals/musical theatre?" and demand that I answer with either "yes" or "no", three years ago my answer would have been "no", and now it would be "yes". (Actually, three years ago if someone used the term "musical theatre" I would be kind of like "Huhhh?" and not really know what they were talking about... heh. See, I told you I've come a long way.)

14.  Are you tired of the word "musical" yet? 
Not particularly. (But this is a funny question. ;) ) Besides, it has more than one definition, and with the other definition I can start rattling off Jane Austen quotes.  "We have heard you are very musical, Mrs. Elton!" "Oh yes, I dote on it! Dote! As I said to Mr. E, don't give me carriages, don't give me enormous houses--but I could not live without music. No. Life would be... a blank to me."

... "Are they musical? ... That is the first question, you know," said Miss Crawford, trying to appear gay and unconcerned, "which every woman who plays herself is sure to ask about another."

Shutting up. :D Although if you can't put up with Jane Austen randomly sneaking in when I'm supposed to be talking about other stuff... you're reading the wrong blog. ;)

15.  Turn your music playing device on shuffle (or utilize Pandora if you don't have one) and tell us the names of the first three show tunes that come up-- no cheating!  How do these rank on your favorites/most-listened-to list?
Oooh, one of these deals. It always tends to give me the worst stuff or else just really boring things and I'm like "why is this even on my MP3 player..." Buuut, we shall try this once more. ;)

1. "Cry, Baby, Cry" from the Sense and Sensibility musical
2. "Entr'acte" from Phantom of the Opera 25th
3. "Angel of Music" from the same

Elinor & Marianne from the recent S&S musical performance in Denver

#1 is kind of just a lullaby that Elinor sings at one point to try to comfort the emotionally overtaxed Marianne (well, I assume that's what's going on, since I've never actually seen it). It's a pretty song and has appeared on my favorites list a few times but usually doesn't stay there for long.  #2 is really fun because it's an energetic medley of some of the POTO songs, and I've actually listened to numbers 2 and 3 quite often, but they aren't like my favorites from that album.

(Okay, so Amy, I find it amusing that in the tag you answered yourself it says "MP3 player or iPod" but then on the list for the questions-to-be-copied it says "music playing device"... :P Did you reword the latter list and not bother changing the one you'd already answered?)

Sooo... the end! :) Thanks for the fun tag, Miss Dashwood!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Emma 2009 and The Things It Gets Away With

In some recent musings about Jane Austen adaptations, I was considering the piece of delightfulness that is Emma 2009.  I LOVE IT.  It's amazing, it's adorable, and I want to call it perfect, but the fact is it ISN'T perfect... it just somehow gives the impression of being so.

It has a wide range of admirers, too.  I know several people who prefer the 2005 version of P&P (cough, COUGH) who have a very proper appreciation for Emma 2009.  And I've never yet met a Janeite who doesn't hold 2009 as her favorite, having given it a fair chance.  Even random people who are not very accustomed to period drama can even enjoy it a lot.

Anyways. Went off on a bit of a rabbit trail there--what I was going to say is: Pride and Prejudice (1995) is my favorite JA movie, and I don't even call that perfect, yet I'd say it's more accurate to its novel and JA and the Regency period than Emma is.  It's really rather amusing how much Emma09 can get away with, and its admirers still love it to pieces.

Such as what?  Allow me to tell you what, in my opinion, are The Problems With Emma 2009.  All the ones I can think of right now, that is.  And be forewarned that I'll also go into Auto Defense Mode, which clicks on when anything or anybody I love is criticized, and start explaining why it is that I put up with them all. ;)

  • It's just a little too modern. Starting with the opening.  What is up with all the weird capital letters where they shouldn't be and lowercase where they should? Sorry, that just isn't Jane Austen, peoples, besides for it just being something that irks me.  Yet I can somehow never feel actually disgusted with it, even though it is annoying. The beginning is so FUN even if it isn't period authentic or grammatically correct. (Or would that be capitalization-ally correct? :P Actually, I think there is a word for what I want to say but it isn't coming to me, and probably when Amy comments she will tell me what it is. Haha.) 
  • And then there is the rest of what I mean by it being too modern... they actually designed the body language, etc. to be for a modern audience, and this definitely does show... but despite that, and despite the brighter colors and such that don't give it the old-England feel that some adaptations do, it still seems old-fashioned... or at least not-modern. I'm still satisfied. And I still say that the Gwyneth Paltrow version is much more modern. 
  • People complain about Emma herself acting too immature... I think this ties in with the above. They were trying to make it so a modern audience could connect... and I don't really condone that.  But I still think it was borderline acceptable, haha. Plus it gives more of a chance to show how she matures during the story, because by the end you can see a visible difference--she acts much more grown-up and graceful. And even at the beginning, she still acted more that way when in company. It was in her own home and around people she'd known all her life (like Mr. Knightley) that she was less particular. And I don't mind her being bubbly and animated--I think it goes very well with Emma. Besides, the facial expressions are just too hilarious to want to miss, and if you tell me they are overdone, I will just have to disagree with you.
  • And in keeping with that general theme, there are a few historical inaccuracies... but they are usually for the sake of the story, not because they didn't care about being accurate.  One that comes to mind is when Harriet is at Hartfield for dinner the first time, and Emma is silently teaching her not to tuck her napkin into her dress (she's copying Mr. Knightley) but to put it on her lap, and that when you're eating soup, rather than scooping towards yourself as if you're shoveling, you should tilt the spoon away from yourself so that if your hand slips you can fling soup on the person sitting across from you instead of splattering all over your new evening gown.  Harriet would already have known these sorts of things--proper etiquette and manners would have been taught at the boarding school. But... it's just a hilarious scene.
  • Which brings me to the subject of Harriet In General. (My, this is all tying together nicely, isn't it?)  She's just too... stupid. What other word is there.  Also silly, perhaps, but yes, stupid. Empty of Head. ;) She's never supposed to be the brightest crayon in the box, but they went a bit overboard, I think, trying to get that point across. Especially in the scene pictured above. But again... that scene is hilaaarious. "Courtship, Harriet! See, here, and... and here." And overall, I still think she's the best Harriet, too.
  • That's not tying in nicely with anything else, so let's just go now and talk about my Favorite Part Of The Movie. The baaaaall scene. *pauses for a moment to indulge in a happy sigh* The whole of the ball is delightful, but my favorite scene is the one where Emma And Mr. Knightley Dance. It is the cutest, sweetest, most delightful, most romantical... I tell you, I could write an entire post gushing and squealing about why I love it so much and I'm not usually one prone to Fangirling. (As Some Of You may know, cough.)  Buuuuut, there was one teeny, weeny problem, and that is that they had to go and exclude what is one of my very favorite quotes in the book. (Just go read the last few paragraphs of chapter 38.) *narrows eyes and growls* In fact the first time I ever saw this version, I was sitting there just WAITING for the quote, and it didn't happen and I was like, but, but but... no... wait...  However, the following scene is so perfect that I cannot but say it makes up for it. Especially if you've been watching the whole movie. It's lovely by itself, but if you're "into" the store it's all the better. :D
  • Now let's take this random moment to talk about Jane.  This Miss Fairfax is not my favorite. The closest to my idea of what she should be in the book was in the A&E Emma.  Laura Pyper just didn't cut it for me... her looks were wrong; her figure somehow wasn't graceful or... I dunno... willowy enough, haha, and then her voice too is not at all what I would imagine when reading the book.  I guess I only mention this because it's pretty much the only character in the movie who isn't my favorite representation. (Okay, Frank and Miss Bates sort of tie with a couple others for me, for rather different reasons, but I thought they played their characters to full potential in this one, and I didn't have any problem with their being selected, whereas neither is true for Laura Pyper.)  That said, though, she was still fine, and not unfaithful to the character. She never made me mad. ;)
  • And since we're talking about Jane, let's give Frank a turn, because I have a couple bones to pick about him although they aren't in his acting, they're in the script. And this is rather an example of several similar things--they do throw extra random stuff they made up into the story here and there, like Emma and Harriet happening upon Frank before he actually comes to visit, as though he'd come very close to doing so and then turned back. And it was never really fully explained, besides what he said to Emma, but as we know, Frank isn't very honest. (Or frank. :P) Maybe he was deliberating because he thought it would be too obvious if he showed up right after Jane did?  Anyway, it made for a funny scene later, I have to say. "I have heard so much about you, it is almost as if we had already met!" Once again I forgive Sandy Welch (the scriptwriter), because it's not unfaithful to Jane Austen's Emma even if it isn't exactly what was in the book.
  • But then there's this. AHEM. It's one thing I have without anything to say in its defense.  Frank would never have put his head on Emma's lap, can I hear it for HISTORICAL INACCURACY, that would be VERY inappropriate??  Emma would never have permitted it, either.  People wouldn't have behaved in that fashion, even as a joke.  And besides all that, it pretty much makes me hate Frank altogether and he's always nowhere near my favorite character, haha.
  • Aaaand something the last one brought to mind... the Box Hill Scolding Scene.  Mr. Knightley wasn't quite right.  This is the only time in the entire thing I can say that, because I think Jonny Lee Miller's portrayal is pretty much perfect.  But in the book this scene is so very touching... you really get the feeling that Mr. Knightley is feeling disappointed in Emma and fearing for Frank's influence on her, and truly wanting to help her as a friend, in addition to being somewhat angry on behalf of Miss Bates.  In this scene, it was mostly just Mr. Knightley Come in a Huff to Tell Emma Off rather than, like in the book, explaining to her what she did wrong and why and it may perhaps be a bit heated, but it really ended quite tenderly and it makes you feel sorry for Emma and Mr. Knightley and Miss Bates all at the same time. And also increases your admiration for Mr. Knightley. ;)  Also, Emma is supposed to turn around after a while so that Mr. Knightley can't see the emotions she's going through (and if he did he might know that he'd already succeeded, haha)

  • And lastly, most of the book-to-screen dialogue is not as accurate in a lot of spots as I would like.  Which is another one of those funny things... somehow they manage to do this without it feeling inaccurate and you can say "oh yeah, this is a really good representation of the book!" I don't know how. But they do. 

And now we come to the conclusion of my rambling. (And I am putting a picture of the conclusion of the movie. Because it's the best. I think my favorite period drama ending evah. :D)  So anyways... despite everything, it's one of my favorite Jane Austen movies, almost tied for #1, and I never seem to get tired of watching it. (I've seen it thirteen times, folks. Cough. And 1/4. :P)  It can just get away with anything... and if I was going to write a post like this only discussing what I adore about the movie... heh, if you think this is long, that would be reeeeeeeally long. It would probably have to turn into a series.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Rereading Mansfield Park

I just finished Mansfield Park (for the second time) yesterday, and tomorrow I start Sanditon, so I thought I should write about it now while it is still fresh on my mind. Like I always mean to do, but rarely actually achieve. ;)

Getting into it this time was, I have to confess, a bit difficult for me.  I still like MP, but... well, it's probably on the bottom of my list of JA favorites. Which I almost hate to say, because it has a reputation it doesn't deserve of being not as good, and I still think it deserves more love.  But I was having a hard time getting into it.  One excuse, though, was that there was a lot of Distraction going on in my life at the time. (Ahem. :D)  When I read it the first time, of course, it was New and therefore more interesting (even though I'd already seen the BBC miniseries and knew the basic story--it's still different to actually read the book).

Anyway.  Whenever this does happen with JA, generally when you get further into the story you become more attached to it, and that, as well as actually determining to spend more time reading, moved things along a bit.

So, as I've already done reviews of all 6 of JA's main novels, I like to just talk about my thoughts on rereading the story--what I thought differently this time, what new I noticed, etc.  There wasn't really that much of a difference... although I have to say that this time I was *cough* a tad little bit more sympathetic with the Crawford siblings. *cough, hide*

They're still horrid villains and everything. It's just that I kind understood them a little better, even though I didn't particularly enjoy the feeling. HA.  And of course by the END it's just like... wow, you two are even worse than I thought. (Especially Henry. What a... I can't even... who could seriously think Fanny was wrong to refuse him by the end? Besides Mrs. Norris and Mary Crawford who are jerks and don't count? Goodness, even Sir Thomas admitted she'd been right!)

Okay, so I guess I didn't actually think any better of Henry this time.  It was just that he didn't drive me quite as insane the entire time. I guess it was Mary I liked a little better. She can be rather amusing, and she's not exactly the evil scheming sort.  I wasn't any less annoyed with Edmund for falling for her, though, haha... and still a little annoyed with him at the end, too, how he kept going on about that it was all owing to her upbringing and otherwise she would have been perfect. You know what... whatever. She's just not, okay? She is what she is. And though a lot is often due to upbringing/influence, some people can come through things and still turn out better... especially in stories, although of course he doesn't know he's in a story. (snicker-snort)

Well, anyway. Moving on. So, if you've read the book (and if you haven't you probably shouldn't be reading THIS), you know how towards the end it plunges into the most of the Heavy Stuff. In fact it's probably the Heaviest Stuff of any Jane Austen book ever. Which is why when I turned a page and started in with what ends up being the last chapter and saw--
Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore every body, not greatly in fault themselves, to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest.
--this sort of Rush of Happiness went over me and I was like, YAY JANE! This is why I love you so much!!  Haha, obviously she was getting a little tired of it all, too.

Although I do still wish she'd have spent a little longer once everyone was restored to comfort. I should have liked to see exactly how everything happened with Fanny and Edmund, and instead she leaves most of it to supposition. Sigh. Well, she tells us the general end, but as to details, they are left to our own inferior imaginations. :P

However, I could just envision how lovely it could all be in a movie.  Honestly... why hasn't anyone done it?? There is so much New Stuff that can be done with a Mansfield adaptation, a REAL one in which everybody is portrayed like they're SUPPOSED to be... argh. Anyways.  Come oooon, BBC! I confess I was rather hoping the fact that the 200th anniversary being next year would inspire them, but alas, it would seem not...

And I really do think that it is all finished nicely even if I would want it to be longer.  I mean, Mrs. Norris is out of the picture with good riddance and everyone is happy.  Maria is ruined and deserves it. (Although maybe I would have liked to see Henry a with a bit more of a comeuppance.)  Susan Price gets to stay at Mansfield and doesn't have to live with the horrid Prices anymore.  Tom improves.  Sir Thomas is no longer an idiot about certain ideas he had concerning Fanny (namely, that she should have accepted Mr. Crawford, and that she should not marry one of his sons, haha); and it's a bit morbid of me but I found this hilarious: "...Dr. Grant had brought on apoplexy and death, by three great institutionary dinners in one week..." (cough). And of course, Edmund and Fanny live happily ever after.

One thing bugs me though, and that is this--
Could he have been satisfied with the conquest of one amiable woman's affections, could he have found sufficient exultation in overcoming the reluctance, in working himself into the esteem and tenderness of Fanny Price, there would have been every probability of success and felicity for him. His affection had already done something. Her influence over him had already given him some influence over her. Would he have deserved more, there can be no doubt that more would have been obtained, especially when that marriage had taken place, which would have given him the assistance of her conscience in subduing her first inclination, and brought them very often together. Would he have persevered, and uprightly, Fanny must have been his reward, and a reward very voluntarily bestowed, within a reasonable period from Edmund's marrying Mary.

What... no. Jane. Please. DON'T. Don't indicate that Fanny would have married Henry in the end if all that Stuff hadn't happened. How could you do that to your own Fanny??  It's rather like the indication that Marianne wasn't really in love with Col. Brandon at the time of marrying him. (My thoughts here.) I prefer to have my own opinion on these subjects. Heh.

Just the same, I finished the book with the same sentimental feeling I always get when finishing one of Miss Austen's stories... and this little sigh escaped me which then made me giggle because it wasn't at all premeditated. Haha.

Anyway. I'll stop rambling now and close with two random quotes I scribbled down. (I wasn't very good at writing down quotes this time...)

"There is not one in a hundred of either sex, who is not taken in when they marry. Look where I will, I see that it is so; and I feel that it must be so, when I consider that it is, of all transactions, the one in which people expect the most from others, and are least honest themselves."
~Mary Crawford

"I was quiet, but I was not blind."
~Fanny Price

Friday, September 6, 2013

Back to Jane Austen

My love for Jane Austen has never wavered. Yet lately, I've felt like I've been becoming a little bit detached from the fascination that once had me so enthralled. The stories, the world surrounding them, the life and times of Jane Austen herself.  I'm not any less of a Janeite than I ever was... but my thoughts have been clouded by a bunch of other things, and though other things are delightful, nothing compares with that time when everything JA was exciting and new and wonderful and marvelous.

It's time to get back into just Jane Austen.  I want some of all that back. It can't be the same as when everything really WAS new, I know, but... none of it has changed, after all. It's just that I've been neglectful or even a little desensitized. *gasp*

Even my blogging has telltale signs of this happening. I've had so little inspiration of anything to write about.

This Simply Will Not Do.  A true Janeite never leaves the realm, and I certainly never shall.  But I think there comes a time when one needs a Refresher Course.  To be reminded.

So, friends, I am going to give myself a Challenge.  Starting on Monday, I am going to Immerse myself in Jane Austen.  And to do this, I'm going to stay away from other stories and entertainment. Which means I won't read anything that is not connected in some way to Jane Austen. (Besides the Bible.) I won't listen to anything that isn't connected to Jane Austen. (I will say, though, that I am counting period-authentic Classical music to be 'kosher'. ;) ) I'm not going to watch anything non-Jane Austen.  I'm even going to try to keep my internet browsing Jane-themed, including stuff like Pinterest and of course blogging.

I know, crazy, huh? But you all knew I was crazy, right? ;)  And it will be within reason... sometimes there has to be exceptions to schemes such as that, especially when you're not a hermit, haha. But for the most part, I will be sticking to it.

*happy sigh*

And hopefully all this will give me some motivation to blog more.  I am in hopes that you fellow lovers of Jane Austen will help me by stopping by for a chat. ;)  Maybe some of you would even like to join me?  I don't mean wholly--I realize that not everyone is as rabid as I. ;)  But if you liked, you could make your own version of a Jane Austen Challenge and come along for the ride a little.  Like I said, I'm starting on Monday (the 9th) and I'll go at least until the following Monday, maybe further.

I had fun the other night putting a whole bunch of books and such on hold at the library... I'm just finishing Mansfield Park and next week I'll hopefully be starting Sanditon, the version finished by "another lady", and I've never read past a few pages of that, so it will all be New. :D  Who knows what I'll be inspired to do? I really am getting rather excited here. :) :) :)

So anyways... just thought I'd give you all this little update. You probably all think I'm a Nut now. But what can I say... I am!

Would you rather hear the story...

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