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Civic puts tale of Eyre, Mr. Rochester to music

Thu., Oct. 27, 2011

The story of the governess Jane Eyre and her stormy relationship with Mr. Rochester will be told entirely through song on the Spokane Civic Theatre’s Main Stage this weekend.

Paul Gordon’s 2000 Broadway musical version of Charlotte Bronte’s gothic romance is this year’s annual in-concert fundraiser for the Civic.

“In-concert” means that it is not fully staged. But don’t let that fool you. “Jane Eyre” will be even more elaborate, musically, than most of the Civic’s offerings, according to director Yvonne A.K. Johnson.

Between the singers and the musicians, there will be 60 people on stage. The orchestra, under the direction of Michael Saccomanno, will be 14 strong, more than twice the size of a usual pit orchestra.

The vocalists will include 10 members of the Spokane Area Children’s Chorus, singing the parts of the schoolgirls.

And because this is an in-concert show that doesn’t require busy singers to commit to months of rehearsals, the Civic is able to attract even more impressive vocal talent than usual.

Steven Mortier, one of the area’s most in-demand operatic baritones, sings the role of Rochester. Mortier has been in many opera productions over the years, and has also performed with the Spokane Symphony and other classical institutions. Yet he has rarely, if ever, performed in regional musical theater.

The role of Jane Eyre will be covered by Andrea Dawson, who has proven to be one of the area’s finest vocalists in many settings – musical theater (“White Christmas”), classical music (Windsong) and light opera (“The Pirates of Penzance”).

Sophia Caruso, who was a sensation as Helen Keller in “The Miracle Worker” at Interplayers last spring, will be Young Jane.

Other notable voices: Darnelle Preston as Mrs. Fairfax and Tamara Schupman as Blanche Ingram.

This fundraiser will also support a good musical cause: “the continued professional excellence of our Civic orchestras,” according to the theater.

And the show itself? Variety said it has an “intelligent sung-through score” which tells the “complex story with twists and turns intact.”

The $30 ticket includes a post-show reception catered by Europa and Clinkerdagger.

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