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Originally published Friday, July 4, 2014 at 6:32 AM

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‘Jane Eyre’ and more: This week’s theater openings

A roundup of new shows opening in Seattle-area theaters the week of July 7, 2014.


Seattle Times theater critic

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As Seattle eases into the more leisurely summer calendar of indoor theater, several show openings are on our radar: a musical version of a classic 19th-century novel, a reading of an early-20th-century feminist play, a contemporary satire of the literary life and a one-person show about the life and times of a piano man.

Here’s a preview:

“Jane Eyre — The Musical” (Taproot Theatre)

Charlotte Brontë’s timeless duckling-to-swan tale of a discarded child, who becomes a governess with a seductively brooding master (with more than a skeleton in his attic closet), “Jane Eyre” has had countless film, stage and television adaptations (and at least one incarnation as a Web series).

This musical version by Paul Gordon and John Caird is a mostly faithful abridgment of young Jane’s romantic odyssey. It had a rather brief run on Broadway, but collected a handful of Tony Award nominations, and has since been revised by its authors and mounted by numerous regional theaters.

The new Seattle rendition is directed by Karen Lund, with musical direction by Edd Key. So will the Taprooters fit the big party scene on their small stage? They’ll find a way.

July 11-Aug. 16, Taproot Theatre, 204 N. 85th St., Seattle (206-781-9707 or taproottheatre.org).

“Seminar” (Theatre 9/12)

The good, the bad and the ugly aspects of a writers’ seminar get a going-over in Theresa Rebeck’s satire/celebration of the literary life, a recent, sharp-fanged study that won good notices on Broadway.

Theatre 9/12 uncorks the Seattle debut of Rebeck’s unsparing portrait of four would-be novelists who have signed on for an expensive seminar, and the dyspeptic celebrity author-teacher who dishes out withering critiques. The latter role was a triumph for British actor Alan Rickman in the Broadway version. In Paul O’Connell’s staging for 9/12, Jeff Berryman does the honors.

July 11-Aug. 3,Trinity Parish Hall, 609 Eighth Ave., Seattle (206-332-7908 or theatre912.com).

“Hands Solo: Pianoman” (ACT Theatre)

Victor Janusz has long been a ubiquitous performer in Seattle’s cabaret world. Now we’ll get to hear the skinny on how he came to be that guy crooning at the piano, with songs telling part of the story.

The show features familiar and original tunes, and anecdotes about such matters as Janusz’s sticky relationship with his childhood piano teacher, his “surreal” nine-year stint tinkling the ivories at Nordstrom and his encounter with then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.

At ACT’s Bullitt Cabaret venue, Janusz’s “monologues with music” is staged by well-known local actor-director, Lori Larsen.

July 10- 20, ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., Seattle (206-292-7676 or acttheatre.org).

“Rutherford and Son” (Endangered Species Project)

After seeing a splendid production at Canada’s annual Shaw Festival, I hoped a Seattle company would mount this century-old stage gem by English writer Githa Sowerby, a woman of strong feminist and socialist convictions. No full staging on the horizon yet, but Endangered Species Project is offering a public reading of the script.

The long-dormant 1912 work (unearthed in the 1980s, and hailed anew) is set in Northern Yorkshire, in the home of the successful owner of a local glass factory. A widower, he is a domineering mogul whose workers and adult children resent his bullying and fear his wrath, yet are financially dependent on him.

A critique of patriarchal capitalism, the play explores its effects on family psychology and economic inequity in a manner similar to the dramaturgy of Sowerby’s better-known near-contemporary, Henrik Ibsen. And the plot cranks up suspense over who will gain or retain the upper-hand in household and workplace.

7 p.m. Monday only at ACT Theatre, Seattle (206-292-7676 or acttheatre.org).

Misha Berson: mberson@seattletimes.com



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