New ‘Jane Eyre’ Jan. 27 at Tyrone's Legacy Theatre
“Jane Eyre,” Charlotte Bronte’s haunting love story first published in 1847, tells the story of a young governess thrown into a world of mystery, deceit, and adventure. The popular gothic romance has inspired countless BBC adaptions, television mini-series, and Hollywood films (most recently in 2010 with Alice in Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska as Jane and X-Men: First Class’s Michael Fassbender as Rochester). The book has also inspired numerous stage adaptions. One of the most memorable adaption being the lush and technically impressive Paul Gordon/John Caird musical that opened on Broadway in 2000. The musical ran for 209 performances and was nominated for five Tony Awards. A new, streamlined version of the show opens at The Legacy Theatre in Tyrone this week.
In a 2007 interview with Playbill.com, Jane Eyre’s composer/lyricist Paul Gordon (Emma, Daddy Long Legs) stated that he and book author and director, John Caird (Les Miserables, Nicholas Nickleby) “always imagined it as a more intimate experience.” He went on to relate how the musical-for better or worse-”lost that intimate feel” that the musical had in its original incarnations. Now, over ten years since its Broadway debut, a reworked and slimmed down version of the show is premiering at The Legacy Theatre in Atlanta.
In discussing the version of “Jane Eyre” that audiences will see in Atlanta, Gordon stated that “Jane Eyre 2.0 is a leaner and more concise version of the show that played Broadway in 2001. We have fine tuned the story and made the production more acceptable for regional theaters around the country to produce. We are very proud of the improvements and changes we have made and hope that audiences will enjoy Charlotte Bronte’s moving story of love and forgiveness.”
Mark Smith, Artistic Director of the Legacy and Jane Eyre’s director, first approached Gordon and Caird in the Fall of 2010 after having read the article on Playbill.com.
“The musical’s soundtrack has always been one of my favorites. The haunting and memorable melodies, combined with the story’s timeless and enduring themes, made a considerable impression on me. After reading the article, I knew that the Legacy with its intimate, yet grand auditorium could be the perfect place to stage this new version of the show. Mr. Caird and Mr. Gordon were incredibly gracious and excited about the possibility of bringing this version to Atlanta and to the Legacy for its regional premiere.”
“Jane Eyre 2.0,” as it’s being called, had its world premiere in Tokyo in 2009, and it was subsequently produced by the Masquerade Theatre in Houston, Texas. This version boasts a reduced orchestra from the original New York production as well as new and rewritten music and lyrics. The book has been cut extensively throughout in order to bring focus to the emotional love story between Jane and Rochester. The cast has been reduced to thirteen, with most actors doubling or tripling roles.
Smith, who directed the regional premiere of Alan Menken and Tim Rice’s King David in 2005, realizes the importance of an undertaking like this. “It’s a true honor to be entrusted with this incredible piece of theatre, and I hope audiences are moved and inspired. I also hope that this version will have a long life after this premiere. I think the smaller cast size and orchestra size will guarantee popularity among smaller regional theaters across the world.”
The cast is made up of actors from Atlanta and the entire Southeast as well as from New York. Katie Mitchell (S’Wonderful First National Tour) will perform the title role and Stephen Mitchell Brown (Chauvelin in National Tour of Scarlet Pimpernel), who appears courtesy of Actor’s Equity, will play Edward Rochester. Rounding out the cast are Jill Bergeron, Anna Bridgeman, Amy Bridges, Erin Burnett, Alexandra Duncan, Ben Isabel, Erin Lamb, Ed Richardson, Preston Watson, Amanda Wilborn and Hannah Wilkinson.
“Jane Eyre” opens at The Legacy Theatre (1175 Senoia Road, Tyrone, Ga) on January 27 and runs to February 19. Shows are Fridays at 8 p.m. Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sundays at 3 p.m. Reserve your tickets by calling 404-895-1473 or go online at www.thelegacytheatre.org.