Thursday, 23 June 2011

My Musical Theatre Dream Roles!

Assuming that I could act and dance and had a fantastic singing voice with a massive range my dream roles would be...

The Soprano roles:

Christine Daae - The Phantom of the Opera (ALW version)

Glinda - Wicked

Cosette - Les Miserables

Johanna - Sweeney Todd

Eliza Doolittle - My Fair Lady

Audrey - Little Shop of Horrors

The Mezzo Roles:

Eponine - Les Miserables

Elphaba - Wicked

Belle - Beauty and the Beast

The Narrator - Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat

Elisabeth - Elisabeth

Fantine - Les Miserables

Nancy - Oliver!

I think I might do a post for the roles I'd like if I were a man at some point but that's it for now.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Various 'Jane Eyre' adaptations (1983, 1996, 2006)

Last night I went to see X-Men: First Class which I really enjoyed. It's the best X-Men movie that's been made in a long time. It's a lot of fun, I loved the '60s feel of it and it's really well-acted. James McAvoy, Kevin Bacon and Michael Fassbender stood out in particular and were all excellent.

Now you may well be wondering at this point as to how exactly Jane Eyre ties in with the latest X-Men film. Well, this is because Michael Fassbender (who plays Magneto in the film) will be playing Mr Rochester in the new Jane Eyre movie adaptation. After liking his acting in X-Men I'm looking forward to his take on Rochester for the Jane Eyre movie. Judi Dench and Jamie Bell are going to be in it too, as well as Mia Wasikowska. Hmm... I didn't think much of her acting in Alice in Wonderland but I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. The film won't come out over here in the UK until September but it's been released in the US and most of the reviews say it's good even if the plot events don't happen in the same order as the novel. I'm cautiously optimistic. I love the characters and romance of Charlotte Bronte's novel (one of my favourite books) and I've already seen three adaptations of it. One is a movie and two are TV adaptations. Here's my review of them from worst to best.

The worst adaptation that I've seen is without doubt the 1996 film, which was directed by Franco Zefferelli and stars Charlotte Gainsbourg and William Hurt. The film has some nice cinematography and it does actually start off quite well. Anna Paquin is really good as Young Jane Eyre and is feisty yet vulnerable. Fiona Shaw is really good as Mrs Reed too. I think it helps that she played Aunt Petunia in the Harry Potter movies! So the early part of the film that covers Jane's childhood years I actually like. Unfortunately I really dislike the rest of the film because both of the adult leads are miscast. Charlotte Gainsbourg looks the part and does a competent job at portraying the quiet, reserved side of Jane's character - but she does so at the expense of showing us Jane's passionate, determined side. As a result her Jane just comes across as being really cold and emotionless and boring. Gainsbourg's portrayal is also jarring given how passionate Anna Paquin's Young Jane is. However, at least Gainsbourg's acting is better than William Hurt's Rochester. His acting is bloody awful in this movie! He looks bored, he mumbles throughout and his Rochester bears no relation whatsoever to the Rochester of the book. He doesn't even look like Book Rochester! He's blonde-haired and blue-eyed for crying out loud! There is absolutely NO chemistry between him and Gainsbourg either. The proposal scene is lacking in any sort of passion and even the kissing looks forced (e.g. their lips don't really touch). Hurt never shows us Rochester's brooding side or the character's sense of humour. His Rochester is just completely flat and emotionless. If I hadn't read the book then I'd probably have wondered how Jane ended up falling in love with him! This is the only Jane Eyre adaptation that I've seen where I actually wanted Jane to marry St John Rivers. Fans of the book will know how very bad this is! Also, Elle MacPherson plays Blanche Ingram in this film and she really can't act. 2/5

Next up is the most recent TV adaptation of Jane Eyre: the 2006 version done by the BBC. This version was written by Sandy Welch. I'm a fan of hers since she also wrote the recent BBC adaptations of Emma and North and South which I loved (especially the latter!). I think this particular adaptation of hers is her weakest. Again, this is a version that's great visually and Ruth Wilson gives an excellent performance as Jane despite looking too old and mature for the role. There's no way she could pass for 18. However, they made her look plain in this and she really did give a great performance. Unfortunately there are just too many weird departures from the book for me to enjoy this version. The Ouija Board scene for example is just, so, so, so stupid! And why on earth is there a scene where Jane and Rochester are rolling around on a bed together kissing?! Charlotte Bronte must be rolling around in her grave! I'm not fond of Toby Stephen's portrayal of Rochester either. His Rochester seemed too mellow and light-hearted and the way he played Rochester was nothing at all like how I imagined the character in the book. At times Stephens reminds me of Hugh Grant! : S However, at least he had chemistry with Wilson and his acting was still better than William Hurt's. This version is by no means terrible but I can't see myself watching it again. 3/5

Now I've come to the best adaptation of Jane Eyre: the 1983 version which was also made by the BBC. Although this is the best adaptation I've seen it's by no means perfect and it hasn't aged very well. It was filmed in the 1980s and - like most BBC adaptations from the 1970s and 1980s - the sets, costumes, cinematography and direction now looks very dated and stagey. Also, Timothy Dalton is far too good-looking to play Rochester from a purist's point of view. However, although he is too good-looking, at least he's dark-haired and dark-eyed and looks brooding enough to play the master of Thornfield. And I can't fault his acting. He does a great job playing the character and really brings Rochester to life. He had chemistry with Zelah Clarke and he even did a believable gypsy scene! I didn't like Zelah Clark's performance as Jane much at first but her acting grew on me as the series progressed. Ruth Wilson is my favourite Jane but I do like Clarke as well. This version is also the most faithful to the book. Hardly anything is left out and many of the lines are word-for-word accurate quotes from the book. It doesn't rush the early scenes where Young Jane is at Gateshead or Lowood or the scenes where Jane is staying at the Rivers cottage either. I still have a while to wait before I see this new Jane Eyre adaptation but if you're only going to see one Jane Eyre adaptation then this is the one to watch. 4/5