Nov 10, 2009

Jane Eyre: The Musical

by Emily DeFosse

Charlotte Brontë’s classic literary work, Jane Eyre, has come to life on the stage of Lloyd Theatre, alluring audiences with its gripping music and captivating characters.

Junior Kathryn Williams debuted in her first lead role at Liberty as the protagonist Jane Eyre.

“(Jane) is a free spirit, a free thinker,” Director Linda Nell Cooper said. “She is philosophical, which makes her very logical, so she becomes a bit overwhelmed when her emotions begin to control her.”

Sophomore Kyle Rodgers plays Williams’ male counterpart, Edward Rochester.

“Rochester is a broken man,” Rodgers said. “When (the audience) is first introduced to him in the play, he is very hard and stubborn and physically brooding. (Rochester has) been broken by so many situations in life that he built an outer shell around him to protect him from any pain.”

The on-stage chemistry between Williams and Rodgers completes the show.

“If anything (students) just need to come to see Kyle and Katie,” Cooper said. “This is their first time in lead roles, and they are dynamite.”

Williams believes the play is about forgiveness and devotion to God and to people.

“(The play) describes the life journey (Jane) takes from a little girl (as an oppressed orphan),” Williams said. “(When she) grows up she moves to Thornfield Hall and meets Edward … then she finds out he has a secret life that (and) she is forced to choose between this great sin and following God, and she chooses to follow the Lord.”

The role was challenging for Williams because she rarely leaves the stage and has to show the wide range of emotion that Jane experiences throughout her life.

Rodgers found it hard to live up to the greatness of the classic character, though audiences viewing the show would never guess.

“(Rochester) is a heavily established character in literature already, so there are so many people that are going to expect to come to this show and see a portrayal of Edward Rochester,” Rodgers said. “Really the biggest thing for me is trying to do justice to this beautifully written character.”

The play is true to the original plot in Brontë’s novel, with the exception of a few necessary changes made to fit the story from a large classic novel in a two-and-a-half hour time slot.

“In the musical St. John Rivers is not as large (a character) as it is in the book. But it still has the same impact of another love story,” Cooper said. “(What they’ve done) is combine stories, but it hasn’t lost the emotional impact of the characters.”

Another difference in the play is the group of narrators that dance in the background to represent what is happening inside Jane’s mind, according to Cooper.

There are many elements of a gothic novel within Jane Eyre that come out heavily in the play, but much care was taken by the actors to ensure that the romance is not overshadowed.

“It was a challenge to make sure the darkness did not overwhelm the romance because it is very brooding, very dark,” Cooper said. “That is why we are all so drawn to the novel — the whole idea of love conquering all. We don’t really get that until the end, so we have to make sure it is not overshadowed by all the darkness.”

For ticket information and show times call the Liberty theatre box office at (434) 582-2085.

Contact Emily DeFosse at

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