"Whenever Richard Cory went down town, /We people on the pavement looked at him: / He was a gentleman from sole to crown,/Clean favored, and imperially slim."
Edwin Arlington Robinson's famous poem opens with that description of a wealthy, respected, handsome man, who, in turn, inspired A.R. Gurney to craft his play, Richard Cory. Now that play has inspired a musical, Richard Cory, which makes its world premiere Feb. 12-26 at Dallas' Lyric Stage. Three time Dallas Theatre League Award winner Cheryl Denson directs
Ed Dixon, whose composer-lyricist credits include Shylock, Fanny Hill and Cather County, first attracted Gurney's attention with the latter piece during a reading at New York City's Playwrights Horizons. Gurney was taken with the style, which reminded him of what he wanted his Richard Cory to be and he asked Dixon to musicalize his play. It was Gurney's idea that the Cory characer would speak, not sing, his lines.
The short poem and play follow the gentleman Cory through his 1930s hometown, where he is successful and respected, but there is something terribly wrong in the life the townspeople see as perfect. As Robinson wrote: "So on we worked, and waited for the light, /And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;/ And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,/ Went home and put a bullet through his head."
Chamblee Ferguson stars as Richard Cory, a role originally played by Christopher Reeve. Also in the cast are Wendy Welch, Richard Estes, Pamela Peadon, Lois Sonnier, Sreve Barcus, Dara Whitehead, Susan Davis, Ricky Pope, Christopher Hanke, James Williams, Ryan Appleby, Dinnis Yslas and Susan Metzger. Designing Richard Cory are Wade Giampa (sets), Tom Jaekels (costumes) and Susan A. White (lighting). Nyela Basney (King's Island Christmas) is the musical director.
Tickets are $25-$18 and are available by calling (972) 252-2787. Lyric Stage performs at the Irving Arts Center's Dupree Theatre at 3333 N. MacArthur Boulevard.
-- By Christine Ehren