‘Jane Eyre’ tuner marks milestone on Broadway

Broadway incarnation is fourth prod'n

NEW YORK — The “Jane Eyre” tuner will celebrate something of a milestone when it opens at the Brooks Atkinson Theater on Dec. 3.

“It will be only 30 days from the 10th anniversary of my writing the first note of this musical,” said composer-lyricist Paul Gordon, who calls the Broadway incarnation the show’s fourth production.

In 1997, the Charlotte Bronte-based musical opened at the Wichita Center of the Performing Arts for a two-week run with a production that Gordon described as “very modest.” The following year, a John Napier-designed production opened at Toronto’s Royal Alexander Theater. Last summer, Napier reduced its size slightly for the La Jolla Playhouse.

“I wrote some new songs,” Gordon said. “In Toronto, (the music) was composed through but not sung through. In La Jolla, we let the scenes breathe more with less music between songs.”

Mixed reviews

Despite mixed reviews in La Jolla, “Jane Eyre” proved to be the Playhouse’s third most successful run ever, with single ticket sales of $597,960 for 62 sold-out performances. Only “Tommy” and “Rent” grossed more, but with longer runs. The Gordon musical closed on Sept. 5, 1999, to make way for another show in the theater’s subscription series, Tennessee Williams’ “Sweet Bird of Youth.”

Gordon said the Broadway production would be “fine-tuned, slightly rearranged with about 10 minutes cut” from the West Coast show.

James Barbour’s Rochester and Marla Schaffel’s Jane headline the Broadway production of “Jane Eyre,” which is being produced by Annette Niemtzow, Janet Robinson, Pam Koslow and Margaret McFeeley Golden.

In addition to Gordon and Napier, the show’s creatives include John Caird, who wrote the book and co-directs with Scott Schwartz, costume designer Andreane Neofitou, music director Steve Tyler and orchestrator Larry Hochman.

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