The long-awaited Paul Gordon and John Caird musical, Jane Eyre, has lined up its producing team, who expect to bring the Charlotte Bronte based tuner to Broadway in the fall. According to the Boneau/Bryan-Brown press office, 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.
The cast is 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.
Before New York, Jane Eyre will try out at CA's La Jolla Playhouse, July 13-Aug. 29, with July 25 slated as the official opening night.
The La Jolla company also includes Jayne Paterson (Jane's mother), Nell Balaban (Amy), Rachel Ulanet (Louisa), Lee Zarrett (John Reed), Bill Nolte (Mason), Bruce Dow (Robert) and Christopher Yates (Jane's father), all of whom appeared in a workshop reading of the show in New York this past February. Others in the La Jolla and Broadway cast are Anne Allgood, Marguerite MacIntyre and Don Richard. MacIntyre had a featured role in the York Theatre's revival of No Way To Treat A Lady, which was directed by Jane Eyre's co-director, Scott Schwartz. Schwartz, who co-stages the piece with librettist and co-lyricist Caird, is the son of composer Stephen Schwartz (Pippin).
* Jane Eyre was previously seen with Schaffel and Anthony Crivello in December 1996 at the Royal Alexandra Theare in Toronto.
Technically, its world premiere was at the Wichita (KS) Center for the Performing Arts in December 1995. The show's first post-Toronto staging was to be September 1998 at Tennessee Repertory Theatre, but it did not materialize.
Songs that remain from Toronto include: "Deep in My Secret Soul," "I'm Painting a Portrait," "Oh, Sister," "Brave Enough to Love" and "Forgiveness." The convention of having the ensemble separately tell Jane's story in the first person (using the formal "gentle audience" greeting) is a holdover from Toronto, as well.
Jane Eyre is drawn from Charlotte Bronte's 19th-century novel of a plain woman falling in love with the mysterious, secretive Rochester in provincial England.
Insiders suggest this new version of the show is more of a traditional book musical than the sung-through, darkly-designed (by John Napier) production that played the Royal Alex in Toronto. A Toronto cast album had a limited release. Jane Eyre has long been promised for Broadway but has yet to announce any definitive dates or theatre.
The 1996-97 Toronto production starred Schaffel (a onetime Fantine in Broadway's Les Miz) and Anthony Crivello (Kiss of the Spider Woman) as Rochester.
The Toronto leads played the same roles in the 17-performance world premiere in Wichita, KS, far from the glare of New York media.
The original Canadian designers were scenic designer Napier (Sunset Boulevard), costume designer Adreane Neofitou (Miss Saigon) and lighting designer Chris Parry (Tommy). The Canadian producers Ed and David Mirvish are no longer involved with the project. The three designers are still on board, with Tom Clark and Mark Menard added as sound designers. According to a Boneau/Bryan-Brown spokesperson, Napier has designed a new set, now including three turntables.
Composer Gordon is best known as a pop songwriter, with the likes of Amy Grant, Bette Midler and Smokey Robinson recording his tunes. Co-director, co-lyricist and librettist Caird won a Tony for staging Les Miserables and is currently represented in London by Candide.