Jane Eyre (musical)

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Jane Eyre
Janeeyrecover.jpg
Original Cast Recording
MusicPaul Gordon
LyricsPaul Gordon
BookJohn Caird
BasisJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Productions1995 Wichita, Kansas
1995 Toronto
1999 San Diego
2000 Broadway

Jane Eyre is a musical drama with music and lyrics by composer-lyricist Paul Gordon and a book by John Caird, based on the novel by Charlotte Brontë. The musical premiered on Broadway in 2000.

Production history[edit]

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, Ontario, 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.[1]

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)[2] 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.[3]

Characters and original cast[edit]

Character Wichita
(1995)
Toronto
(1996)
La Jolla Playhouse
(1999)
Broadway
(2000)
Edward Fairfax Rochester Anthony Crivello James Stacy Barbour
Jane Eyre Marla Schaffel
Marigold / Mrs. Fairfax Martha Hawley Mary Stout
Blanche Ingram Nicole Dooley Elizabeth DeGrazia
St. John Rivers Chad Frisque Aloysius Gigl Christopher Yates Stephen R. Buntrock
Robert N/A Robert Dow
Young Jane Eyre Jennifer Bedore / Taryn Southern Sara Farb Tiffany Scarritt Lisa Musser
Adèle Varens Ashley Sinclair Frannie Diggins/Sharai-Ann Ross-Laney Joelle Shapiro Andrea Bowen
Richard Mason Charles Parker Bill Nolte
Bertha Mason Heather Ayers Gina Ferrall Marguerite MacIntyre
Miss Scatcherd Martha Hawley Gina Ferrall Marguerite MacIntyre
Helen Burns Angela Lockett Megan Drew Jayne Paterson
Mr. Brocklehurst Don Richard
Grace Poole Charlene Ayers Brooks Almy Nell Balaban
Amy Eshton Tracy Gardner Kelli Rabke Nell Balaban
Mr. Eshton Paul Jackson Mark E. Smith Christopher Yates Stephen R. Buntrock
Mrs. Reed Charlene Ayers Brooks Almy Anne Allgood Gina Ferrall
Lady Ingram Charlene Ayers Beth Anne Cole Anne Allgood Gina Ferrall
Louisa Eshton Angela Lockett Rachel Ulanet Gina Lamparella
Mrs. Dent Heather Ayers Nell Balaban Marguerite MacIntyre
Mary Ingram Mary Jeanette Warlick Lavonda Elam Jayne Paterson
Colonel Dent Don Richard
Vicar Chad Frisque Kevin McGuire Don Richard
Young John Reed Ryan Bogner Peter McCutcheon Lee Zarrett
Young Lord Ingram Charles Parker Aloysius Gigl Lee Zarrett

Musical numbers[edit]

Synopsis[edit]

A man wearing a cape stands over a woman crouched
Mr Reed torments young Jane in Suffolk Youth Theatre's 2008 production
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 Adèle 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[edit]

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."[4]

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."[5]

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.

Response[edit]

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."[6]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
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

References[edit]

  1. ^ Holland, Jack."Review:'Jane Eyre" at LaJolla", curtainup.com, July 25, 1999
  2. ^ "PHOTO CALL: Schaffel, Parker and Leonard Win Outer Critics Nods May 24" May 30, 2001
  3. ^ Jones, Kenneth."Stop the Presses: Morissette Grants 'Jane Eyre' a Reprieve, Show Will Run to May 27" Archived 2012-10-17 at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, May 16, 2001
  4. ^ Isherwood, Charles. "Jane Eyre", Daily Variety, December 11, 2000, p. 14
  5. ^ Weber, Bruce. "An Arsonist In the Attic; A Feminist In the Making", The New York Times, December 11, 2000, Section E, p. 1
  6. ^ Burke, Thomas."Broadway Reviews:'Jane Eyre'", talkinbroadway.com, December 11, 2000

External links[edit]