© 2024 WVIK
Listen at 90.3 FM and 98.3 FM in the Quad Cities, 95.9 FM in Dubuque, or on the WVIK app!
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

REVIEW: Jane Eyre, the Musical at The Black Box Theatre

The Black Box Theatre

Quad Cities listen up. The Black Box Theatre is giving you the incredibly good fortune to see an absolutely beautiful musical adaptation of one of, if not THE, best known and most beloved romance novels, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and I do not have enough superlatives to describe how stunning it is. It is yet another feather in the cap both of BBT founder and director Lora Adams as well as Music Director, Amy Trimble.

Attesting to its quality, this musical won the 2001 Tony awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Performance by a Leading Actress. It’s easy to see why as the music and lyrics of the songs are melodic, winsome, and relatable.

This is going to sound kind of sappy, but one of my favorite film roles is Olivia de Havilland as Melanie Wilkes in Gone with the Wind. Let’s face it, NOBODY is that sweet, loving and forgiving, but de Havilland completely and utterly sells it, sucking us into a sugar induced coma of utter belief. For me, that is the highest compliment I can assign to Kiera Lynn’s portrayal of Jane Eyre. Her performance is tender, endearing and oh so genuine, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that she has the singing pipes to back up her acting skills.

Counter-balancing Lynn’s Jane Eyre is Joe Urbaitis as the troubled master of the manor house, Edward Fairfax Rochester. It’s been decades since I read the novel, but my recollection of Rochester is that of a tortured and taciturn curmudgeon. Here the character is interpreted as a kinder, gentler Rochester which makes him easier to like as he and Jane follow the winding and pot-holed path to eventual happiness.

Adams has expertly accommodated this rather large-for-the-venue cast of 14 by concealing the cast in ensemble numbers behind screens which gives them a retrospective haunting quality. And speaking of numbers, this 38 chapter novel is adapted to a whopping 39 songs to tell this classic tale resulting in a close to 2 ½ hour production. But don’t worry, you’ll savor every minute.

This uber-talented cast also includes Shelley Cooper in the dual roles of Miss Scatchard and Blanche Ingram and Karen Lefebvre, who I especially liked, not only for the quality of her singing but also for the way her songs were cleverly written in a recurring syncopated style.

There were a couple of technical glitches at the performance I attended but they are so minor that most people may not have noticed them and certainly didn’t diminish this excellent production. And circling back to music support, Trimble has reduced instrumentation to only two keyboards and a flute. Believe me, you won’t miss a full orchestra.

Jane Eyre, the Musical continues at The Black Box Theatre, 1623 5th Avenue in Moline, March 22, 23, 28, 29, and 30 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 24 at 2:00 p.m.

I’m Chris Hicks…break a leg.