Throughout the novel, "Jane Eyre," the 19th-century heroine searches for a sense of home, and the same can be said of the musical Jane Eyre: She wants a house on Broadway.
Despite published reports saying Jane was dead this season, producers of the John Caird-Paul Gordon tuner based on the Charlotte Bronte classic are still hoping a suitable Broadway theatre becomes available before May 3, the Tony Award nomination deadline.
Producer Annette Niemtzow told Playbill On-Line Jan. 27, "We're trying to come in this season, in New York." The fact that Finian's Rainbow, Wise Guys and Martin Guerre have fallen away from the early 2000 schedule lessens competition, but time is running out if a Tony deadline is the goal.
However, the show's sprawling set (by John Napier) needs 32 feet of wing space, and theatres with such a backstage capacity are currently filled.
"We have some promising situations," said Niemtzow. If hope fades, the producer would not rule out an out-of-town run later in the year prior to sitting down on Broadway, but she remains as hopeful as Eyre herself that the musical romance might come in by May.
Jane Eyre was a three-hanky hit in its tryout at the La Jolla Playhouse in summer 1999. It was one of the biggest-sellers in that theatre's history.
Jane Eyre is drawn from Bronte's 1847 novel of a plain woman falling in love with the mysterious, secretive Rochester in provincial England.
The music and lyrics are by Paul Gordon, with additional lyrics by Caird, who serves as librettist and co-director (with Scott Schwartz).
Previews began July 13, 1999, at the La Jolla Playhouse in coastal La Jolla, CA., near San Diego. It closed Sept. 5.
Jane Eyre will be produced on Broadway by Annette Niemtzow, Janet Robinson, Pam Koslow, Jennifer Manocherian and Alan Novich, in association with Margaret McFeeley Golden.
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 might be best known for staging Nicholas Nickleby and co-directing and co adapting Les Miserables. His most recent London staging was a fresh adaptation of Leonard Bernstein's Candide.
The La Jolla cast, expected to be the same for Broadway, was led by James Barbour (Carousel, Beauty and the Beast) as Rochester, Marla Schaffel (a onetime Fantine from Les Miserables) as Jane, Mary Stout as Mrs. Fairfax, and Elizabeth DeGrazia as Blanche.
Observers consider this a good season for a big, serious-minded show to come in. The major competition for Tony Award nominations would seem to be the yet-unseen George C. Wolfe staging of The Wild Party; the intimate "musical play," The Dead, with some songs culled from pre-existing material; and the lauded, so-called "dance play," Contact, which does not have a new score.
Marie Christine has already closed and Saturday Night Fever, though popular, is generally considered not artistically ambitious enough to be a serious contender for a Best Musical Tony win.