Jane Eyre | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Jane Eyre 

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John Caird and Paul Gordon's musical version of Charlotte Bronte's novel captures its incidents and tone, but the score is repetitive and the lyrics range from anachronistic to clunky. Circle Theatre makes the most of what it's got: a heartthrob Rochester (Mark Pera) who sings like a dream, Darrelyn Marx in a delightful comic turn as Mrs. Fairfax, and Bob Knuth's set and Kurt Ottinger's lighting--so fully realized that when the bedroom catches fire you look for the exits. But what the production lacks, despite Knuth's lively direction, is fatal: as Jane, Sarah Swanson detracts from her own imposing presence by slipping in and out of accent and grimacing far more than necessary to establish Jane's vaunted plainness. Swanson's voice is equal to the demands of the music but a bit thin: she's often overpowered by an overamped electric piano. Through 12/19: Fri-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM. Thu 12/2-12/16, 8 PM. Circle Theatre, 7300 W. Madison, Forest Park, 708-771-0700. $22-$24.

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