Jane Eyre Box Office Opens Oct. 2

News   Jane Eyre Box Office Opens Oct. 2 You could already get Jane Eyre by phone, but why not get her in person?
Marla Schaffel and James Barbour in Jane Eyre.
Marla Schaffel and James Barbour in Jane Eyre. (Photo by Photo by Joan Marcus)

You could already get Jane Eyre by phone, but why not get her in person?

The box office for the new Broadway musical, Jane Eyre, opens 10 AM Oct. 2 and the first 50 customers at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre get the promise of a cast recording after its Nov. 21 release in stores. Cast recordings will be mailed.

Previews for the lush, romantic musical by librettist John Caird and composer-lyricist Paul Gordon begin Nov. 7. Official opening is Dec. 3. The Brooks Atkinson is at 256 W. 47th Street in Manhattan.

Tickets range $50-$86 and are also on sale by phone at (212) 307-4100.

* The denizens of the alternately dark and lushly romantic world of Jane Eyre, drawn from the Charlotte Bronte novel, 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). Caird co-directs with Scott Schwartz. The score is by Gordon (whose pop songs have been sung by divas including Bette Midler), and the book 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).

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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.

Designers for the Broadway staging are Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer (lighting), John Napier (set) and Andreane Neofitou (costumes), Tom Clark and Mark Menard (sound).

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.

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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 as $6.5 million.

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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.

In its development, Jane Eyre has been seen in three different productions — in Wichita, KS, Toronto and a hit staging in 1999 in La Jolla, CA. Changes were made over the years.

In a summer 2000 Playbill On-Line interview with director librettist Caird, he said the changes were not "fundamental," but "in many peripheral ways, I think it's changed.

He said, "The story's the same but it has changed in that it's a lot smaller cast. We sort of grew too large in Toronto largely because we were in a very big theatre and we had a very large ensemble — a lot of people who weren't really necessary to the story. We gave ourselves the challenge of shrinking down to something more like a chamber musical rather than a mega blockbuster."

In Toronto, the set was gloomy and looming, but the creative team lightened up since then, according to the director.

"The set's completely different," Caird told Playbill On-Line. "That is radically different. We decided we would lose the idea of having a sort permanent storytelling environment in which everything was more or less the same, and go for a completely different system, which is a black box idea which we'd fill with scenic devices whenever they're necessary. It's actually very colorful. It's against a black background, like Les Miz, but it's intensely colorful when we need it to be."