A Musical in Two Acts. Book and additional lyrics by John Caird. Based on the novel of the same name by Charlotte Bronte. Music and lyrics by Paul Gordon.
Opened 10 December 2000 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre and closed 10 June 2001 (210 perfs).
Narrating her story, Jane Eyre looks back on herself as an unhappy and mistreated child. Young Jane is an orphan barely tolerated by Mrs. Reed, the wife of her late uncle, and brutalised 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 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.
During an outbreak of typhus at the school, Helen becomes sick and dies. Jane is comforted by daily visits to her grave. She survives the school long enough to grow up and become a teacher there, but she yearns for freedom. Jane obtains a post as governess to a young French girl, the ward of the mysterious Mr. Rochester of Thornfield Hall. The housekeeper, the chatty if slightly deaf Mrs. Fairfax, welcomes Jane to the house. 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. 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 realises that she is falling hopelessly in love with Rochester, 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 to stand by him always. 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. The inarticulate cries of the mysterious Figure from the attic haunt both of them.
A sense of irrational attraction and dread is expressed by the Ensemble as Mason attempts to confront the mysterious Figure and is viciously attacked by her. Mr. Rochester enlists Jane's assistance 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. Out walking in the garden, the lovely Blanche calculates Thornfield's (and Mr. Rochester's) net worth while Jane sadly contemplates having to leave them.
The listless houseguests are delighted when "the Gipsy" 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 happiness of the couple somewhat disconcerts Mrs. Fairfax 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.
Jane runs off, taking nothing with her and leaving behind a desperate Rochester. 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, 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' 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 burnt out shell. Jane discovers Mason there at the grave of his sister, Bertha Mason Rochester, the doomed madwoman of the attic. 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"
(in order of appearance):
The action is set in England in the 1840s at Gateshead Hall, Lowood School, Thornfield Hall and the surrounding Yorkshire Moors.
- The Orphan - Jane
- Children of God - School Girls, Mr Brocklehurst, Mrs Reed, Miss Scratcherd, Ensemble
- Forgiveness - Mary Ingram, Young Jane, Jane
- The Graveyard - Jane, Young Jane, Ensemble
- Sweet Liberty - Jane , Ensemble
- Perfectly Nice - Marguerite, Adele, Jane
- As Good as You - Edward
- Secret Soul - Jane, Edward
- The Finer Things - Blanche
- Oh How You Look in the Light - Edward, Blanche, Ensemble
- The Pledge - Jane, Edward
- Sirens - Edward, Jane, Miss Scratcherd
- Things Beyond This Earth - Ensemble
- Painting Her Portrait - Jane
- In the Light of the Virgin Morning - Jane , Blanche
- The Gypsy - The Gypsy
- The Proposal - Jane , Edward
- Slip of a Girl - Marguerite, Jane , Robert, Adele
- The Wedding - Ensemble
- Wild Boy - Edward, Jane , Bertha, Ensemble
- Sirens (reprise) - Jane , Edward
- Farewell Good Angel - Edward
- My Maker - Jane , Ensemble
- Forgiveness (reprise) - Mrs Reed, Jane , Ensemble
- The Voice Across the Moors - St John Rivers, Jane , Edward
- Poor Sister - Richard Mason, Jane
- Brave Enough for Love - Jane , Edward, Ensemble
Original Broadway Cast Recording - Sony Classical SK 89482