Seattle Pacific University’s newest theater production, “Jane Eyre,” incorporates the timeless lessons of forgiveness, strength in the midst of pain, and the bravery to love into a memorable musical production.
“Jane Eyre” began its debut at SPU’s E.E. Bach Theater on Feb. 1, and is open to the general public as well as SPU students for a discounted price.
Set in nineteenth century rural England, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre presents the story of a woman who shows resilience and strength.
Jane, played by junior Jayne Hubbard, is dealt a rough hand at life. Both of her parents have died, and she is raised in a school where she is constantly taught that her life is of no worth.
Hubbard delicately portrays this woman with solemn emotion throughout these tragic opening scenes. The beginning of the play leaves the audience feeling sympathetic for this woman who seems to have a very grim future ahead of her due to her unfortunate circumstances.
Along the way Jane is introduced to a young woman who teaches her the value of forgiveness, and that she must trust in God to make her brave.
As young Jane matures, she realizes her need for liberty and seeks a better life elsewhere.
Sophomore Grace Bryant, a cast member in the play, reflects on Jane’s hardship saying, “Jane is dealt a lot of really crappy cards, but she finds a way to keep pushing through and keep moving forward.”
Upon arriving at a new and unfamiliar location, Thornfield Hall, Jane serves as a governess and earns her living by serving as a teacher. Here, Jane is introduced to the seemingly cruel Edward Rochester, played by senior Trevor Burden.
As the production progresses, however, the audience comes to find that Mr. Rochester has experienced difficulties of his own that he is dealing with.
Burden sees his character in the beginning of the production as representative of people who do not know where to go once their life has fallen apart.
Throughout the play the use of costume design, as well as hair and makeup, really enhanced each of the characters, truly bringing the audience through a journey right alongside them.
These features were true to the setting of the nineteenth century and of what would be common for that time. It is clear that the cast was trained to have the proper accents for each of their roles as well.
Throughout the course of the production, Jane continues to mature and makes difficult choices, knowing that she must pursue what is right for herself and others.
“Whenever she realizes that she is unhappy, she does something about it,” Hubbard said of her character, Jane.
“She always is very active about trusting God, listening to herself and finding where she feels that she needs to be.”
Hubbard explains that Jane’s actions are counter-cultural and show a great deal of independence, which was uncommon for women at the time.
“She is so strong and she is so independent and she’s such a feminist within this time period, so it’s so fun to try and get myself within the mindset,” Hubbard said.
Another central theme of the production is the focus on embracing forgiveness towards others. Jane embodies this as she returns to those who had once wronged her, and offers mercy.
“I just love the themes of forgiveness and mercy that make their way through the piece,” said Candace Vance, director and head of performance of the theater department.
From a young age, the value of forgiveness is impressed upon Jane and it stands with her throughout her life.
“She goes through so many different trials in her life and the thing that makes her really able to be where she wants to be is when she forgives,” Hubbard said.
Connecting to forgiveness is the bravery that Jane finds in her heart to love both herself and others. In the last scenes of the production, the audience may be moved to tears as they see the final choices Jane makes for herself.
“Being brave enough to love one another and to love yourself, no matter your predicament, to stay true to yourself, is the message we’re trying to put out there with this show,” said senior Emma Heesacker, who plays Ms. Fairfax in the production.
This showing of Jane Eyre proved memorable, filled with great acting, powerful music and lyric, and captivating messages.
The use of light and sound created another dimension of sensory appeal, each component used with purpose. These features were used strategically throughout the production to give audience members an accurate portrayal for each scene.
At the end of the production, Jane comes full circle to a deeper understanding of herself and the events that have played out in her life.
“She goes through her life thinking that God is judgmental,” said Vance, but in the ending scene, Jane comes to the realization that “God had tempered judgment with mercy.”
“Jane Eyre” runs through February 10.