Lovers take note: The Fullerton Civic Light Opera Company is hosting the world premiere of a new musical based on one of the most classic romances of all time, “Jane Eyre.” With a beautiful score by composer Jerry Williams, and script and lyrics by Patricia York, the musical is a remarkably faithful retelling of Charlotte Bronte’s original novel.
Heading the cast are Fullerton native Melissa Lyons Caldretti (as Jane) and Broadway veteran T. Eric Hart (as Mr. Rochester), whose astounding voices truly bring the musical to life. Supporting players Rick Cox (as John the bulter) and Anthony Carillo (as Rev. St. John Rivers) also deserve a tip of the hat for their charming performances.
Ms. York’s script borrows heavily from the actual dialogue of Ms. Bronte’s original 1847 novel. As a devoted “Jane Eyre” fan, this reviewer generally appreciated hearing the grand cadences of Ms. Bronte’s exquisite prose spoken on the stage. It was especially endearing to witness the audience's response to the humorous language of Ms. Bronte’s many funny passages, and to hear Caldretti and Hart speak the timeless words of love written more than 150 years ago by a parson’s lonely daughter.
However, the Victorian language also sometimes bogs down the play’s story-telling, especially in the “narrative” songs, which tend to be rather wordy. This musical often worked best when Ms. York took the most liberty with the original text. Stand-out scenes include the servants’ rousing production numbers, the reimagining of the “Blanche Ingram chapters” as a humiliating public dance Jane is forced to endure, and the very funny monologue/solo delivered by Jane’s erstwhile suitor St. John Rivers
The show will be traveling to Escondido after its Fullerton run. From there? Perhaps after working out a few kinks, it may be Broadway bound! But it will continue to play at the Plummer Auditorium through October 31. So why not cuddle up with the great love of your life, or enjoy the ultimate “chick lit” story with your girlfriends, and come on down to Fullerton for a night of Victorian romance? Who knows, perhaps on the final Halloween performance, the mysterious “ghost” who lives in Mr. Rochester’s attic might just light up the hall!
For ticket information, check the FLOC’s website at: