Dear readers, I am shocked! Shocked, I tell you! Word is flying around the ton…okay, the internet. A certain Ms. Q—, of whom many are fond, has optioned an adaptation of some of her beloved novels, with the equally well-known Ms. R—- at the helm, and, well, it’s getting interesting.
Ms. Q, of course, is the one and only Julia Quinn, creator of the one and only Bridgerton series of Regency-era historical romance novels, and Ms. R, as many are aware, is the powerhouse of producing, Shonda Rhimes. The first eight episodes will air on Netflix, and there is already quite the buzz about who is playing whom.
Fans of course expressed delight when Julie Andrews, she who has been bringing her a-game to Hollywood for decades, as Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way, the Queen of Genovia, and other iconic performances to her credit, will be voicing Lady Whistledown. That’s not where the brouhaha began. Oh no. It began, as many scandals do, with the arrival of a handsome young man.
The young man in question is one Rege-Jean Page, and, readers, he, too, has an impressive resume to his credit, so there is no doubt he has the acting chops. Take a look at his IMBD page (pun unintended) for proof. The man is British, yes, indeed, so there is no worry about accent, and he is adept in historical roles, has had formal training, and is well acquainted with the rigors of a continuing television series, so whatever could be the problem?
Well. As is news to no-one, the Bridgertons are a family of the English nobility, in the early nineteenth century, the product of, well, centuries of advantageous marriages among those of their own…oh dear…circle, shall we say. The cover of the latest edition of the first book in this series, The Duke and I, does make this quite, quite clear, with the lovely cover art, below.
What is not clear, as the cover depicts only the heroine, Pheobe (the “I”) is that Mr. Page’s character, Simon, (aka the Duke) is described, I am told, in the text, as having blue eyes. Mr. Page, as one may note, if one is quite done scrolling through the photo section of his profile (I will wait…:taps foot:) Alert readers (we did all read the man’s resume, did we not?) will note that Mr. Page not only has the great good fortune to be British, but to be British-Zimbabwean, which is where, astoundingly, some opinions on this casting choice, among others, differ.
Before we go any farther, dear readers, I must issue a disclaimer. I have no dog in this fight, as they say (please do not fight dogs, nor encourage them to fight each other. Dogs are friends and companions. Pet them and play with them, but please, no fighting.) as I have read but one Bridgerton book as of yet, that being the first of the prequels, Because of Miss Bridgerton and thus am unable to judge whether Mr. Page is indeed capable of portraying Simon’s character in a believable manner, but as Ms. Quinn has gone on record as being pleased with all the casting choices, does it not follow that the talents of the actors fall in line with her visions for the characters?
Though yours truly is no expert on the Bridgertons as of yet, I do have, in my storied past, a study of theatre, and, as part of such, have had experience in casting, on both sides of the stage. While many find fantasy casting a pleasurable pastime, there is no one actor talented enough to capture every reader’s vision of a popular character (and if there were, dear readers, he would be exhausted from doing so much work.)
There is a unique magic to the thespian art, when an actor steps onto the stage, or in front of the camera, and becomes the character, no longer the man or woman whose name was on the call sheet, but the one upon the page. Pun, once again, unintended. When that happens, oh, it is the most marvelous thing. Has it happened with this Bridgerton series? I can only hope that it has.
Now, for those who dissent, claiming historical accuracy, I must offer a stern, “tut tut.” Yours truly is a devotee of historical accuracy, to be sure, but, if given the choice, historical verisimilitude rules, every time. This is fiction, after all, and the emphasis on the romance. As long as Ms. Quinn’s trademark voice is intact, is that not what truly matters? I direct readers to a small bit of theatre that enjoyed some recent success, a show titled Hamilton.
While a biography of a documented historical figure, all roles save one (King George) are traditionally cast with no eye at all toward the ethnicity of the actors. The best man or woman for the job, it shall be. I must assume Misses Quinn and Rhimes are of the same mind, and we are due for a treat that defies description, and perhaps, oh, perhaps, will make adaptations of historical romance, all the rage. What a delight that would be.
So, dear readers, I turn it now over to you. Will you be watching the Bridgertons on Netflix? What do you think of the cast? If it tickles your fancy, fantasy cast away, living or dead. Pull up a chair in the comment section and tell us all about it. There’s room at this table for everyone.