Jane Eyre 2000 Broadway Musical

Marla Schaffel, James Barbour

"Stand as my equal, be my reward." -Rochester

"I hear your cherished voice across the moorland skies." -Rochester

Okay, the musical. This is the Paul Gordon version. I've seen SO MANY comments bashing the musical by people who have never really listened to it just because it's "Jane Eyre" with singing, and "Jane Eyre" shouldn't be a musical (OMG!). I have to say I was never a fan of musicals before listening to this version. (Except for "The Sound of Music" which...is a little bit like "Jane Eyre" isn't it?) At any rate, it took awhile for me to come to grips with all the singing, so I can understand where people may come from but I hope that at least some of the people who turn their backs on this musical might actually like it if they really listened to it.

I do love this musical. I think adding music to the already lyrical text heightens the emotion of the story and can very easily put you into the mindset of each of the characters. The ability of Paul Gordon to work in actual text from the novel into the lyrics is amazing as well (something I come to realize even more as I listen to other Jane Eyre muscials). In terms of condensing the story, all the major scenes are there for the most part, and without too many additions. I love that they even have Rochester as the Gypsy which is rarely done in Janian adaptations. The tone of the whole show is somber- in set design and music, but there are moments of humour- with Mrs. Fairfax most often bringing in the comic relief.

Marla Schaffel is marvelously grounded as Jane- her characterization is balanced between propriety and passion- something that is hard to do in a straight production, but when Jane can sing in privacy, it can all come out. :) James Barbour is commanding as Rochester (and not only because of his voice, which is a glorious baritone). His performance is more layered than many Rochesters I have seen, having a certain finesse or gracefulness while also being gruff and abrupt. The other characters are mostly spot on with the exception of Mrs. Fairfax (played by Mary Stout) who plays her good-natured but a bit doddering. And St. John Rivers is not quite the jerk he is in the novel. Though he still doesn't love Jane when he asks her to marry him.