Opening night for the North Crawford Playhouse approaches and the cast is ready with a production which few high school theater groups would attempt, “Jane Eyre.”
The musical adaptation of the famous gothic novel requires organization, discipline and direction to produce and the North Crawford Playhouse is up to the task. The effort of producing “Jane Eyre” holds the same challenge that a basketball team might face in going to state. The directors, staff, and talented students are ready to go the distance.
The story is based upon the classic novel by Charlotte Brontë. The play, “Jane Eyre“, is a musical drama with score and lyrics by composer-lyricist Paul Gordon and a book by John Caird. It shares the same mood and style as its more well know counterpart “Les Miserables.” Both works invite us into the personal lives of the hero/heroine as they overcome injustice by shear strength of character.
Jane is an orphan who struggles through an oppressive and bleak childhood, subjected to cold rooms, poor meals, and thin clothing. When she becomes a governess for Edward Rochester’s young ward, her life begins to take on new dimensions, spinning the plot through love, mysterious visions, haunting voices, and less than honest promises of marriage. Through it all Jane survives as a strong heroine.
“I have done plays about crooks, prostitutes, and thieves, but here is a play that celebrates a person who knows herself and will not bend the rules for convenience,” says Director Robert Ghormley. He adds the promise of an evening “that is hauntingly beautiful.”
Jane Eyre is Ghormley’s 60th play since 1995, when he began collecting the talented people who have helped the Playhouse find new and innovative ways to bring in revenue to expand the program. The Playhouse has turned its extensive collection of costumes into a theatrical enterprise, by renting set pieces and costumes to organizations throughout the United States and Canada. The revenue returned to the playhouse has, in turn, funded expansion of its stage and facility to the point where Ghormley is often teased by Superintendent Daniel Davies with the taunt that the school may end up as just a small arm of the North Crawford Playhouse.
Along with the development of physical aspects of the Playhouse, the organization of people has grown to include Assistant Director Camille Smith who is working on her 17th production, Musical Director Paul Cota now counting his 20th North Crawford show and Costumer Tina Martin in her 14th show with the Playhouse.
Cota says the students were already hard at work in the early summer, meeting once a week to begin rehearsing the abundant music. Cota describes early rehearsal as as a “sing through,” which means that the lines of dialogue are few before the singing resumes.
Only with the organization and direction of a remarkable program like the North Crawford Playhouse, which invites every student grade 7-12 to participate, can you enjoy such a quality experience with an cast of 45 actors and 10 technical assistants.
It all waits, just a few miles away, where you can see and hear a rarely produced production about forgiveness, redemption and integrity, “Jane Eyre“.
Playing on November 4,5 and 10-12, tickets are on sale now through North Crawford Schools. Reserve your seats now by calling 735-4318. Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for students.