Jane Eyre – Original Broadway Cast Recording 2000
The action takes place in the North of England in the early 19th Century. Act I Narrating her story, Jane Eyre looks bock on herself as on unhappy and mistreated child – “The Orphan.” Young Jane is an orphan barely tolerated by Mrs. Reed, the wife of her late uncle, and brutalized by her sadistic son, John. Mrs. Reed sends the spirited Jane to a charitable school for girls run by the self-righteous and cruel Mr. Brocklehurst. Lowood Institution is a grim and unhealthy place (“Children of God”) only made bearable for Jane by the presence of an older girl, Helen Burns, who shares with her a love of books, art, and nature. Helen teaches Jane that forgiveness is all that makes life worth living – “Forgiveness.” During an outbreak of typhus at the school, Helen becomes sick and dies. Jane is comforted by daily visits to her grave – “The Graveyard.” She survives the school long enough to grow up and become a teacher there, but she yearns for freedom – “Sweet Liberty.” Jane obtains a post as governess to a young French girl, the ward of the mysterious Mr. Rochester of Thornfield Hall – “Secrets of the House.” The housekeeper, the chatty if slightly deaf Mrs. Fairfax, welcomes Jane to the house – “Perfectly Nice.” Jane quickly warms to her pupil, Adele, and to life at Thornfield, especially after the appearance of the darkly brooding and sardonic Mr. Rochester. Rochester explains the presence of his ward, Adele, and his dissipated past – “As Good As You.” Despite their differences, Rochester and Jane are drawn to each other, though their feelings remain unspoken. In the middle of the night, a mysterious figure sets fire to Mr. Rochester’s bed, and Jane saves Rochester’s life by dousing the fire with a basin of water. Jane realizes that she is falling hopelessly in love with Rochester (“Secret Soul”), but he seems incapable of returning her love, though clearly attracted to and intrigued by her. He invites several fashionable aristocrats for an extended stay and pays court to one of them, Blanche Ingram, a beautiful lady of rank who pledges her devotion to “The Finer Things.” When a man named Mason joins the house-party, Mr. Rochester is inexplicably shaken, and makes Jane promise too stand by him always – “The Pledge.” Jane hopes to allay his torment, which appears to be caused by the unnamed figure on the upper floor of Thornfield, whom Jane believes to be Grace Poole, a close-mouthed seamstress. Rochester is in despair about his feelings for Jane, while she prays that she can bring him peace – “Sirens.” The inarticulate cries of the mysterious figure from the attic haunt both of them. Act II A sense of irrational attraction and dread is expressed by the Ensemble (“Things Beyond This Earth”), as Mason attempts to confront the mysterious figure and is viciously attacked by her. Mr. Rochester enlists Jane’s aid to treat Mason’s wounds, while telling her nothing of the cause of the attack. Rochester tells Jane he is to be married, and she tells him in return that, if such be the case, she must leave Thornfield. Seeming not to care, he leaves the decision to her. In a moment of desperate self-honesty, she paints an unsparing portrait of herself, and a flattering one of the gorgeous Blanche – “Painting Her Portrait.” Out walking in the garden, the lovely Blanche calculates Thornfield’s (and Mr. Rochester’s) net worth (“In the Light of the Virginia Morning”), while Jane sadly contemplates having to leave them. The listless houseguests are delighted when “The Gypsy” arrives to read their palms, but are so upset by their fortunes that they soon break up the party and go home. Rochester has chased Blanche away, and finally confesses his love to an incredulous Jane and asks her to be his wife – “The Proposal.” The happiness of the couple somewhat disconcerts Mrs. Fairfax (“Slip of a Girl”), but plans go ahead for the wedding. On the wedding morning, however, the dreadful secret of the figure in the attic is revealed. Rochester tries to hold on to Jane, but they both know her conscience will never allow her to stay by his side as anything but his wife – “Sirens (reprise).” Jane runs off, taking nothing with her and leaving behind a desperate Rochester – “Farewell, Good Angel.” The madwoman in the attic runs amok, setting fire to Thornfield Hall and luring Rochester onto the burning roof as he attempts to save her. Alone and penniless, hungry and exhausted (“My Maker/Rain”), Jane makes her way back to her childhood home at Gateshead Hall. There she meets St. John Rivers, a young clergyman living in the house of her dying aunt, Mrs. Reed. St. John tries to reconcile Jane and Mrs. Reed, but despite Jane’s genuine application of Helen Burns’s philosophy of forgiveness, Mrs. Reed dies a bitter and despairing woman. St. John also decides that Jane would make the perfect wife for a missionary, and a reluctant but grateful Jane is almost ready to accept when she hears – The Voice across the Moors. She feels she cannot leave England until she learns what has become of Mr. Rochester. Now a woman with her own money – inherited from her aunt – she returns to find Thornfield a burned-out shell. Jane discovers Mason there at the grave of his sister, Bertha Mason Rochester, the doomed madwoman of the attic – “Poor Sister.” Mason tells Jane of the fire, and of Rochester’s sad fate. Reunited with Rochester, now blind and partially crippled, but a free man at last, they declare themselves “Brave Enough for Love.”
Jane Eyre: Maria Schaffel Mr. Brocklehurst: Don Richard Miss Scatcherd: Marguerite MacIntyre Mrs. Reed: Gina Ferrall Helen Burns: Jayne Paterson Young Jane: Bonnie Gleicher* Mrs. Fairfax: Mary Stout Robert: Bruce Dow Adele: Andrea Bowen Edward Rochester: James Barbour Blanche Ingram: Elizabeth DeGrazia The Figure: Marguerite MacIntyre The Gypsy: Marje Bubrosa Jane’s Memory: Gina Lamparella St. John Rivers: Stephen Buntrock Richard Mason: Bill Nolte Bertha Mason: Marguerite MacIntyre Grace Poole: Nell Balaban Lady Ingram: Gina Ferrall Mary Ingram: Jayne Paterson Young Lord Ingram: Lee Zarrett Mr. Eshton: Stephen Buntrock Amy Eshton: Nell Balaban Louisa Eshton: Gina Lamparella Colonel Dent: Don Richard Mrs. Dent: Marguerite MacIntyre Vicar: Don Richard Young John Reed: Lee Zarrett Schoolgirls: Andrea Bowen, Bonnie Gleicher, Rita Glynn & Female Ensemble Ensemble: Nell Balaban, Stephen Buntrock, Bruce Dow, Gina Ferrall, Gina Lamparella, Marguerite MacIntyre, Bill Nolte Jayne Paterson, Don Richard, Mary Stout, Lee Zarrett Swings: Sandy Binion, Bradley Dean, Erica Schroeder *For this recording only. The part of Young Jane was played by Lisa Musser in the Original Broadway Cast.