The denizens of the alternately dark and lush romantic world of Jane Eyre, the Broadway musical, will include Stephen R. Buntrock as St. John Rivers, the man who helps the title heroine find her way back to true love.
Buntrock, who recently starred in the national tour of Martin Guerre, joins previously announced stars Marla Schaffel (as Jane), James Barbour (as Edward Rochester) and Mary Stout (as housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax) at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, where previews begin Nov. 7 toward an opening of Dec. 3.
John Caird co-directs with Scott Schwartz. The score is by Paul Gordon, and the book (from the 19th-century novel by Charlotte Bronte) and additional lyrics are by Caird, who may be best known for co-directing and co-adapting Nicholas Nickleby and Les Miserables, both projects with Trevor Nunn.
The cast features Nell Balaban (as Grace Poole), Sandy Binion (ensemble), Andrea Bowen (Adele), Bradley Dean (ensemble), Elizabeth DeGrazia (Blanche Ingram), Bruce Dow (Robert), Gina Ferrall (Mrs. Reed), Rita Glynn (ensemble), Gina Lamparella (ensemble), Marguerite MacIntyre (Bertha), Bill Nolte (Richard Mason), Jayne Paterson (Helen Burns), Don Richard (Brocklehurst), Erica Schroeder (ensemble) and Lee Zarrett (John Reed).
* Barbour, Marla Schaffel and Mary Stout played Rochester, Jane and Mrs. Fairfax, respectively, at the La Jolla Playhouse, where the musical was a smash in the summer of 1999.
Steve Tyler is music director and vocal arranger, Larry Hochman is orchestrator.
The show's sprawling set (by Cats designer Napier) needs 32 feet of wing space, which the Atkinson has. The show has 36 changes in scenery, including the "burning down" of Thornfield Hall.
Jane Eyre is drawn from Bronte's 1847 novel of a plain but smart woman falling in love with the mysterious, secretive Rochester in provincial England.
Tryout previews began July 13, 1999, at the La Jolla Playhouse in coastal La Jolla, CA, near San Diego. It closed Sept. 5, 1999.
The Broadway producers of Jane Eyre are lead producer Annette Niemtzow (The Kentucky Cycle), producers Janet Robinson, Pam Koslow (Jelly's Last Jam) and Margaret McFeeley Golden, and associate producers Jennifer Manocherian and Carolyn Kim McCarthy. Variety reported that capitalization is $6.5 million.
Composer-lyricist Gordon's work has been sung by Bette Midler, Amy Grant, Smokey Robinson, Patti LaBelle and more. He wrote the chart topping songs, "Next Time I Fall" and "Friends and Lovers." Caird's recent London staging of Candide was hailed a fresh adaptation of Leonard Bernstein's problematic classic.
The La Jolla cast was led by Barbour (Carousel, Beauty and the Beast), Schaffel (a onetime Fantine from Les Miserables), Stout (The Night Governess) and DeGrazia.
Songs in the Broadway score will include "Secrets of the House," "Perfectly Nice," "Painting Her Portrait," "Secret Soul," "Farewell, Good Angel" and "Brave Enough for Love."
In its long development, Jane Eyre had test runs in Wichita, KS, and Toronto, Ontario, and has been significantly revised and refined. Caird told Playbill On-Line the visual aspects of the piece are less dark and gloomy than what was seen in Toronto, and the show feels less like a so-called pop opera and more like a genuine book musical.
Tickets range $50-$86 and are on sale now by phone. Call (212) 307-4100. The box office opens Oct. 2.