Theater: Upstairs, Downstairs

The score sinks the book in Broadway's Jane Eyre

A character faces the audience at the beginning of a play and starts narrating the story--it's the most overused device in modern theater, a refuge for authors who find it easier to tell rather than dramatize. But when Jane Eyre, the heroine of Charlotte Bronte's 1847 novel, presents herself at the start of a Broadway show and addresses the "gentle audience," it is oddly refreshing. It promises something we rarely see in theater these days: old-fashioned, Victorian, what-happens-next? storytelling.

And for much of the way, that's exactly what Jane Eyre, the new Broadway musical, delivers. Written and co-directed (along with Scott...

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