Jane Eyre (musical)
Original Cast Recording
|Basis||Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë|
|Productions||1995 Wichita, Kansas
1999 San Diego
A workshop of the musical was performed at Manhattan Theatre Club in 1995. The musical had a work-in-progress workshop production in Wichita, Kansas in Autumn 1995 at the Centre Theatre. Minor roles and the large ensemble of schoolgirls for the scenes at Brocklehurst's school were cast locally, while the directors brought several members of the principal cast from New York. The musical was well received, and a recording of this rendition allowed the creative team and their backers to slowly move the project towards an opening on Broadway. The musical had its world premiere at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto, Canada in late 1996. The musical then had a pre-Broadway try-out at La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego, California, July 14, 1999 to August 29, 1999. The cast had been reduced from 30 in Toronto to 19.
The musical debuted on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on November 9, 2000, with an official opening on December 10, 2000 and closed on June 10, 2001 after 36 previews and 209 performances. Marla Schaffel, who played the title character, won a Drama Desk Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award (in a tie with Christine Ebersole) for her performance. The production was directed by John Caird and Scott Schwartz, choreography by Jayne Paterson, set designer by John Napier, costumes by Andreane Neofitou, and lighting by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer. Days after the Tony Award nominations were announced, a closing date of May 20 was announced. Alanis Morissette, a friend of Paul Gordon's, bought $150,000 worth of tickets to the musical and donated them to various charity groups. This would allow the show to be open past the Tony Award telecast, although the show closed a week after.
The musical was produced by the Department of Theater at University of Maryland College Park in October of 2005 at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. The production was received extremely well, becoming the best selling show the department had ever done, at that time.
A revised version is in the works, with an originally expected regional debut in the 2008 or 2009 season.
Characters and cast
- Edward Fairfax Rochester – James Stacy Barbour
- Jane Eyre – Marla Schaffel
- Marigold/Mrs. Fairfax – Mary Stout
- Blanche Ingram – Elizabeth DeGrazia
- St. John (pronounced Sin Jun) Rivers – Stephen Buntrock
- Robert – Bruce Dow
- Young Jane – Lisa Musser
- Adele – Andrea Bowen
- Richard Mason – Bill Nolte
- Bertha Mason – Marguerite MacIntyre
- The Gypsy – Marje Bubrosa (an anagram of James Barbour)
^ = songs on the soundtrack ----- Poor Master on the soundtrack is sung by Richard Mason, so it's slightly different.---- Before the song "Rain", on the CD, a cut song from the show "My Maker" is sung by Jane.
- Act 1
Jane Eyre, a young orphan, is living at Gateshead but is ill-treated by her Aunt Mrs. Reed and cousin John Reed. Jane is sent to a boarding school. Over the years, Jane becomes a teacher at the boarding school but longs to see other sights. She becomes a tutor of Adele Varens, a young French girl who lives at Thornfield Hall as the ward of the owner, Edward Rochester. When a fire breaks out, Jane puts it out and saves Edward's life, and the two become close. Edward, however, cannot accept his affection for Jane, and so invites wealthy guests as a distraction. It appears that Blanche Ingram and Edward may be getting married, and Jane is unhappy over this.
Mason, an old friend, arrives, and Edward is disturbed. He asks Jane whether she would leave if he had a terrible secret, and she vows her faithfulness.
- Act 2
When Mason is attacked in the attic, he is helped by Jane and Edward and leaves.
Edward, pretending to be a gypsy, tells Blanche Ingram that he is not rich, and she hastily departs Thornfield. Edward at last tells Jane that he loves her and proposes marriage, and Jane happily accepts. However, on the day of the wedding, Mason tells the secret. Edward is already married to Bertha (who is Mason's sister) and his mad wife lives in the attic of Thornfield. Jane, unwilling to live with Edward without being married, leaves. Bertha meanwhile sets fire to Thornfield, and dies in the flames.
Jane, hungry and exhausted after wandering the moors, has returned to Gateshead Hall, and discovers that her aged aunt is near death. Mrs. Reed has tried to steal her inheritance, but Jane forgives this last evil treatment. St. John Rivers, a clergyman, proposes marriage and Jane almost accepts. But, she hears Edward calling out to her. She returns to Thornfield to see that it has been destroyed. Jane and Edward, blind and crippled in the attempt to save his wife, are married. Edward's sight is partially restored as Jane shows him their new-born son.
Comparison between the book and musical
According to Variety, "Most of the novel's unforgettable Gothic incidents are here: the orphaned Jane's cruel treatment at the hands of her aunt and her spoiled, sadistic cousin; further humiliation at the Lowood school, where she is befriended by the angelic Helen Burns, who then departs --- lickety-split --- to join her immortal brethren; and, of course, Jane's great, doomed romance with her employer Edward Fairfax Rochester (James Barbour), dark of brow and gloomy of spirit, but sexy as hell."
The New York Times reviewer wrote that "The overall gallop through Bronte's significant plot has the teasing quality of a movie trailer. We barely see Bertha when she sneaks down from the attic to set Rochester's bed aflame."
In the book, Jane's aunt left her nothing when she died. It was Jane's uncle, whom we never meet, that made her rich.
In the book, Jane does not return to Gateshead Hall after leaving Edward but is found by St. John Rivers, who then helps her get a teaching position.
The character of Miss Temple, the caring teacher at the Lowood Institution, is not in the stage musical.
The Talkin Broadway reviewer wrote: "A successful dramatic interpretation of the ever-popular novel by Charlotte Bronte, Jane is also blessed with a luxuriant score, haunting and memorable music, and crisp, intelligent lyrics which speak from the very heart of this tragic and romantic story. John Caird, who wrote the book, and Paul Gordon, who wrote the music and lyrics, have come up with a major contender come Spring’s award time...With Jane Eyre, Marla Schaffel joins that small group of great stars of the American musical theatre - Angela Lansbury, Julie Andrews, and Bernadette Peters - who, lady-like to the core, can effortlessly carry a major musical on their delicate shoulders and enchant an audience with a smile."
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
|2001||Tony Award||Best Musical||Nominated|
|Best Book of a Musical||John Caird||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Paul Gordon||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical||Marla Schaffel||Nominated|
|Best Lighting Design||Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Actress in a Musical||Marla Schaffel||Won|
- Holland, Jack."Review:'Jane Eyre" at LaJolla", curtainup.com, July 25, 1999
- "PHOTO CALL: Schaffel, Parker and Leonard Win Outer Critics Nods May 24" May 30, 2001
- Jones, Kenneth."Stop the Presses: Morissette Grants 'Jane Eyre' a Reprieve, Show Will Run to May 27" playbill.com, May 16, 2001
- Jones, Kenneth (2007-08-18). "Jane Eyre the Musical, Like Its Namesake, Reaches for a Brighter Future". Playbill. Retrieved 2007-09-25.
- Isherwood, Charles. "Jane Eyre", Daily Variety, December 11, 2000, p. 14
- Weber, Bruce. "An Arsonist In the Attic; A Feminist In the Making", The New York Times, December 11, 2000, Section E, p. 1
- Burke, Thomas."Broadway Reviews:'Jane Eyre'", talkinbroadway.com, December 11, 2000
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