Friday, May 29, 2015

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: 15 Years Ago: Jane Eyre

Marla Schaffel and James Barbour
Jane Eyre, based in the novel of the same name, was the third of the four nominees for Best Musical 15 years ago that I've talked about.  What really sets this one apart from the others is that it really signaled the end (or at least the slooow death) of the epic musical so popular on Broadway the previous two decades.  It was even directed by one of the "greats" of that era - he had his hand in Les Miserables. Perhaps, it was the comparatively small scale of it.  Or the darkness.  Or that "new fangled" computer-generated scenery.  It also featured Marla Schaffel, who, at the time, was expected to become a huge Broadway and beyond star.  She hasn't been back since.

It wasn't a complete failure, I suppose.  It generated a cast recording and earned 5 Tony Award nominations - Best Book, Score, Actress in a Leading Role, Lighting Design and, of course, Best Musical.  It went home empty-handed, and closed one week later, on June 10, 2001.

36 previews, 207 performances at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre

Note the "new fangled" computerized scenery
Stars at the time:

  • John Caird (Book, Direction) - He wrote and/or helmed two of the biggest hits in Broadway history: Les Miserables and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. Tony nomination: Best Book of a Musical.
  • John Napier (Scenic Design) - Also a part of Les Miserables and Nickleby, he also designed Equus, Cats, Starlight Express, Miss Saigon and Sunset Boulevard.  This was his only flop. 
  • Andreane Neofitou (Costume Design) - a Tony nominee for the original Les Miserables, she also designed the current revival, and... you guessed it... Nicholas Nickleby.

Jane and Rochester get emotional
Stars Were Born:

  • James Barbour (Rochester) - Barbour had appeared in several shows prior to this one, but from here on, he took on other starring roles in A Tale of Two Cities and the revival of Assassins.
  • Several members of the ensemble - Stephen R. Buntrock, Mary Stout, Bill Nolte and Jayne Paterson - have continued to have successful careers as replacements and show gypsies.

Was the artwork better than the show?

The 2015 Connection:
James Barbour (Rochester) - He's the current Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera.
Gina Ferrall (Mrs. Reed/Lady Ingram) - She's a standby in It Shoulda Been You.
Don Richard (Mr. Brocklehurst) - He was the Lizard Man and Tod Browning in Side Show.
Bradley Dean (Swing) - He was in both The Last Ship and Dr. Zhivago.  I saw him in the title role of the latter, and he did a nice job under difficult circumstances.

Next week: The BIG show of 15 years ago...


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