While envisioning Jane Eyre as a musical may seem perplexing at first thought, writers Paul Gordon (music and lyrics) and John Caird (book and lyrics) have crafted a charming musical with a beautiful score. Although there a few minor plot differences from Charlotte Brontë’s novel, the musical stays true to the novel’s essence, so fans of the novel should not be disappointed. Continuing its impressive 2011-2012 season, The Legacy Theatre of Tyrone has found a gem with this show.
This production of Jane Eyre The Musical is the regional premiere of a newly revised version of the Tony Award® nominated musical. The writers have truncated the show so that smaller, regional theaters will have an easier time staging the production.
Directed by Legacy Theatre Artistic Director Mark Smith, the production features a simple set that uses video and projected images to transport the audience to the scenes of the story. A first for The Legacy Theatre, the production features a ten-piece orchestra led by Lanier Motes which includes many musicians affiliated with Point University.
Just as the book and the recent movie adaptation, the musical follows Jane Eyre from childhood to her time as the Governess at the Rochester estate called Thornfield Hall. With Jane as the narrator, the story begins with her birth and depicts her unhappy childhood spent living with her cruel aunt. The story then transitions to her time at school before advancing to her time as Governess.
The shining star of the cast, Katie Mitchell delights as Jane Eyre and shows remarkable stamina appearing (and singing) on stage for most of the show. “Painting Her Portrait,” “In Light of the Virgin Morning” and “My Maker” showcase her outstanding talent as a vocalist. Not only does she possess a beautiful voice with a wide range, but she also carries with her a charisma that powers her onstage performance.
As the rugged Edward Rochester, Stephen Mitchell Brown gives a striking performance, and his soaring vocals blend well with the score to create stirring numbers. Together with Mitchell, the moving duets “The Pledge” and “Siren’s Reprise” are two of the best musical moments of the show.
Featuring a strong supporting cast, a few of the players do stand out. Anna Bridgeman’s Adele is delightful, and as Young Jane, Erin Lamb impresses both with her depiction of the character and with her strong vocals. The adult members of the supporting cast are equally impressive with special mention to Amanda Shae Wilborn, who plays two roles: Jane’s aunt Mrs. Reed and the creepy caregiver Grace Poole. Wilborn masterfully creates two distinct characters so that each leaves a lasting impression.
An engaging musical with a talented cast, the Legacy Theatre’s production of Jane Eyre The Musical successfully breathes life into Charlotte Brontë’s beloved novel. The show plays through February 19 with a running time of approximately three hours including one intermission. For tickets and more information, please call 404-895-1473 or visit The Legacy Theatre’s website.
– A. Wesley