To paraphrase a song in Hair, "the Eyre, the Eyre is everywhere!" This is undeniably the season of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, what with mountings of a Canadian musical, an American play, and several solo turns as Charlotte hitting the boards.
The original cast of Mirvish Productions' musical Jane Eyre will be going into a recording studio in the next few weeks to record the score. Director John Caird told Toronto's Theatre News that he will be rehearsing the cast with some minor changes to the musical, which opened in November 1996 at the Royal Alexandra Theatre and ran there through Feb. 1.
The show has announced that it will move to Broadway in fall 1997, but at this time, Mirvish Productions has not found a theatre in New York that they feel is suitable to hold John Napier's 38-feet-deep set.
Anthony Crivello and Marla Schaffel star in the musical by Paul Gordon and Caird, which is based on Charlotte Bronte's novel. For more information on the musical, please see Playbill On-Line's story, "Jane Eyre Opens After Delay."
For those less musically inclined, NJ's Paper Mill Playhouse will offer a world-premiere dramatization of Charlotte Bronte's novel, written and directed by Robert Johanson. Jane Eyre, (the non-musical), features Elizabeth Roby as Jane, Tom Hewitt (of Off-Broadway's Beau Jest and Jeffrey) as Rochester, Glory Crampton (Gigi) as Blanche, and John Littlefield as St. John Rivers. Along with 10 schoolgirls, 20 actors wil play 40 characters in the drama. Johanson, who has previoiusly adapted Great Expectations and A Tale Of Two Cities for Paper Mill, has said, "Great literature is one of the most exciting means of expression, and it is always a great joy for me to adapt these works for the stage." Michael Anania has designed the settings for Gateshead Hall, Lowood and Thornfield Manor.
On a totally different scale, Lisa Hayes is touring the states with her one woman, 25-character, 80-minute adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's novel. Hayes' Jane Eyre opens for a second time in Los Angeles, this time at the Back Parlour Theatre in The Kindness of Strangers Coffee House, through Mar. 1.
Hayes performed the Los Angeles premiere of Eyre for four packed performances at the Odyssey Theatre in October of 1996.
Hayes has also performed Eyre in London at London's Theatre Museum in Covent Garden, at the Edinburgh Festival, and at an old vaudeville theatre in Montana. She brings to life an entire cast of 25 characters as she travels back into 19th century England.
Sally Goodwin's solo version of Jane Eyre, titled Jane Of Thornfield Hall, will play at New York's Irish Repertory Theatre Feb. 3 Feb 12. This one-woman adaptation is directed by Kathe Mull. For tickets and information call (212) 924-0198.
What, I hear you say, four versions of Jane Eyre aren't enough? How about a visit with the story's author, Charlotte Bronte? The Caldwell Theatre in Boca Raton, FL, opened its four-presentation Performing Arts Series with Bronte, a one-woman show by William Luce, directed by Charles Nelson Reilly and starring Helen Wilson, with 2 performances Jan. 20 at 2 and 8 PM . Reilly directed Julie Harris in the original stage version of Bronte, which premiered at the Marines Memorial Theatre in 1988 in San Francisco. If the name "William Luce" rings a bell, it's because his Barrymore will open on Broadway with Christopher Plummer later this season.
Bronte is based on the 19th century British author's writings, and follows Charlotte Bronte through the death of her sister to her lonely success as a writer and "old maid."
North Carolina playgoers also had an opportunity to meet the author of Eyre. In Mistress Of The Moors, part of Temple Theatre's 1997 Encore Series, Quinn Hawkesworth plays Charlotte. The show, by Elliot Engel, premiered at Temple in 1994 and returned Jan. 9-19.
Engel's previous works include the one-man Charles Dickens show, Night Before Christmas Carol, also staged at Temple.