The Modern Library will release "The Official Broadway Edition" of Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre" Nov. 14, coinciding with the run of the new Broadway musical at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
The 717-page softbound volume's cover reflects the musical's logo and art, which shows Marla Schaffel and James Barbour as Jane and Rochester, respectively, standing by a reflecting pool but not making the passionate connection that the classic novel — and new musical — promises. The English countryside is seen in the background, with a horse running free.
Jane Eyre, with a score by Paul Gordon and book, co-direction and additional lyrics by John Caird, began previews Nov. 9 (two days later than expected) toward a Dec. 3 opening. Scott Schwartz co-directs with Caird.
The tie-in book edition is $7.95 and features a new introduction by Diane Johnson, author of "Le Mariage" and "Le Divorce." The easy-read type is larger and cleaner than other editions of the novel from other publishers. The book also includes notes, commentary and discussion questions for reading groups. The book first appeared in 1847 under Bronte's pseudonym Currer Bell. The novel tells of a plain but smart woman — a governess — falling in love with the mysterious, secretive Rochester in provincial England.
* The denizens of the alternately dark and lushly romantic world of Jane Eyre will include Barbour, Schaffel, Stephen R. Buntrock (as St. John Rivers, the man who helps the title heroine find her way back to true love), Mary Stout (as quirky housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax), 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, Schaffel and 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 are John Napier (set), Andreane Neofitou (costumes), Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer (lighting) and Mark Menard and Tom Clark. Larry Hochman orchestrates, Steven Tyler is musical director and handles vocal and incidental arrangements.
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.
A tryout at the La Jolla Playhouse in Southern California was embraced by audiences July 13-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 the Broadway capitalization as $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.
Songs in the Broadway score include "Secrets of the House," "Perfectly Nice," "Painting Her Portrait," "Secret Soul," "Farewell, Good Angel" and "Brave Enough for Love." A Sony cast recording will be in stores Nov. 21 — two weeks prior to opening, a rarity.
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. Caird said the show is more like a book musical and less like a so-called pop opera.
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 unit set was gloomy and looming, but the creative team lightened the experience since then. Caird (who co staged and co-adapted Nicholas Nickleby and Les Miserables with Trevor Nunn) told Playbill On Line: "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."
The Brooks Atkinson Theatre is at 256 W. 47th Street in Manhattan. Tickets range $50-$86 and are also on sale by phone at (212) 307-4100.