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France, Jane

Jane France

Elizabeth Bromage

Jane’s history within the theatre is common with a lot of theatre lovers. She first ‘tread the boards’ in a local amateur group. In her case it was a production of the most popular of the Savoy Operas ‘The Mikado’. That was it – the bug had bit and she was lost forever. She was oft heard to say, “I don’t care if I’m in the back row of the chorus, as long as I can be on stage!”

Round about two years later she auditioned for, and landed, the part of Lady Blanche in ‘Princess Ida’; a production which won a NODA award for the society – the recently dissolved Barrow Savoyards. With shows such as ‘Chess’ and a pro/am production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ under her belt she continued enjoying her stage career until 1999 (Mother Midnight in Moll Flanders) when she was literally taken off her feet by a degenerative disc disease.

After an extended period in hospital Jane realised that she was unlikely to be offered any roles in the future as – in Jane’s own words - “They expect you to walk across the stage unaided!” Her return to the stage was playing the voice of the plant in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. She sat in the wings in her wheelchair with a camera link to the conductor. It was very well received with nobody believing that a woman could actually sing Audrey 2!  Then, due to a cast member dropping out of a play that Jane was directing - Jane got to play her now dream role of Gran in Frank Vickery’s ‘Family Planning’ where Gran is bed bound.

After a period of readjustment Jane started looking for plays she could do with her disability and found they were somewhat thin on the ground. That’s when she thought “I need to write a play I can be in!” So she did… Though she is still waiting for a company to offer her the role of Agnes Braithwaite…

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