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The New Life Of Jane Eyre
From novel to movie to a beautiful ballet that offers new insight into Charlotte Brontë's heroine
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​Ross’ (David Schwimmer) girlfriend on “Friends.” During seven episodes on the show, Tom was kind of a lightning rod for fans of the show, some who didn’t like the fact that she had taken Rachel’s (Jennifer Aniston) place in Ross’ heart. “Fans still get angry about that,” she says. “There was a live audience [during filming of the show], and they would boo me when I came on because they really wanted Ross to be with Rachel.”
   Not to be discouraged, Tom moved on and exhibited even more of her talents, using her voice in popular animated series such as "Futurama," "The Simpsons," "King of the Hill," "Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness," "Pound Puppies," "Teacher’s Pet," "Batman Beyond" and "Mulan 2." 
   Now, it’s all about Andi Mack, the much talked-about series, where Andi, played by 13-year-old Peyton Elizabeth Lee, was abandoned by her teenaged mother. Enter Lauren Tom as Celia Mack, Andi’s grandmother who made her believe that she and Andi’s grandfather were her parents––and her real mom was her sister.
   There will be more to this continuing story when Andi Mack returns to the Disney Channel on Mondays in June.
Photography courtesy of Disney Channel
–– Walter Leavy
Photograph by Liz Lauren
  IF you’ve read the classic novel Jane Eyre, you get a sense of Charlotte Brontë's incredible talent for character development, and when you combine that with British choreographer Cathy Marston’s adaptation for the stage and a sterling performance by the Joffrey Ballet, it becomes a wonderful piece of magic.
   This production of Jane Eyre, at the Auditorium Theatre through October 27, was originally created for Northern Ballet in 2016, and Marston, who has steadily created a reputation for her talent to bring literary works to the stage, seamlessly highlights Eyre’s various struggles that are sometimes extreme and beyond life-altering.
   The coming-of-age story follows a young orphan being raised by her cruel, wealthy aunt who takes every opportunity to remind Jane that she’s poor and “worthless,” even encouraging the servants to drive the point home even more. But Jane can best be described as a survivor. When she rebels at age 10, she’s sent to a boarding school and years later eventually overcomes some of her life’s struggles to become a teacher. Now, life finally appears to be on the right track, but things aren’t as they seem when she gets a marriage proposal from a man who already is secretly married to the “madwoman in the attic."
   On stage, stepping into the shoes of the lead character is Amanda Assucena, who was born in Rio de Janeiro and  joined The Joffrey Ballet in 2013. She is the personification of flawless fluidity as a dancer. Her presence on stage can’t be ignored, even in the midst of the rest of the ensemble. 
   In ballet, it's a rarity for a female character to tell her own story. But with this character, Marston decided to go against the grain a bit, creating a ballet with the ballerina as the heroine.
   Assucena’s male counterpart is Greig Matthews as Edward Rochester, the man who won her heart, despite his unusual and dangerous secret. Together, they exhibit a wondrous level of strength, agility, balance and grace throughout the production that’s accompanied by the music of Schubert, Felix Mendelssohn and Fanny Mendelssohn. The strategic lighting by Brad Fields, and the set and costume design by Patrick Kinmont enhance the crowd-appealing show. 
   In Jane Eyre, there’s drama and raw emotion that spill onto the stage. And despite the struggles in the story, there’s beauty––the beauty to overcome. Marston takes all of that drama and raw emotion and rolls it into a production that really is a tribute to a heroine who had more than her share of heartbreaking struggles. Brontë' laid the foundation and Marston’s interpretation is an entertaining example of exploring narrative through dance.
––Walter Leavy
For more information and tickets, go to www.auditoriumtheatre.org.
Photograph by Cheryl Mann
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“Women are supposed to be very calm generally, but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts.”
                ––Charlotte Brontë wrote in Jane Eyre, her 1847 novel
Amanda Assucena and Greig Matthews