Jane Eyre to Reach Broadway, Nov. 8

News   Jane Eyre to Reach Broadway, Nov. 8 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.
Marla Schaffel as Jane Eyre and James Barbour as Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre.
Marla Schaffel as Jane Eyre and James Barbour as Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre. (Photo by Photo by John Johnson)

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.

Well, now she has one. The musical will become the next tenant at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre beginning Nov. 8 (a previously mentioned Nov. 7 date has been nixed because it is Election Day, producer Annette Niemtzow told Playbill On-Line). Official opening is Dec. 3. James Barbour, Marla Schaffel and Mary Stout will be in the cast.

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The John Caird-Paul Gordon tuner based on the Charlotte Bronte classic was a hit in its summer 1999 tryout at the La Jolla Playhouse in California. The show's sprawling set (by John Napier) needs 32 feet of wing space, and Broadway theatres with such a backstage capacity are currently filled. The Atkinson will accommodate the set, which has 36 changes in scenery. Thornfield Hall will "burn" down eight times a week. Andreane Neofitou (Les Miserables, Miss Saigon) is the costume designer. Steve Tyler is music director, Larry Hochman is orchestrator.

* 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 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.

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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 might be best known for staging Nicholas Nickleby and co-directing and co adapting Les Miserables. His recent London staging of Candide was hailed a fresh adaptation of Leonard Bernstein's problematic classic.

The La Jolla cast -- expected to be roughly the same for Broadway, depending on availability -- 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.