The Wild West has rarely served as a subject for musical theatre. Aside from Oklahoma! and Annie Get Your Gun, few singing cowboys have traipsed across the stage. Dallas' Lyric Stage sets that right with the world premiere of Sundown, the musical biography of gunslinger Doc Holliday in 2001-02. Another new musical, this one based on the bestseller "Children's Letters to God" with lyrics by Douglas J. Cohen (No Way to Treat a Lady, The Big Time), will also takes its first bows at the Irving Arts Center, playing the Dec. 1-15 holiday season.
Holliday is remembered for his part in the shootout at the O.K. Corrall. After discovering he had tuberculosis, Holliday left his career as a dentist and went West where he was praised for his skills as a gambler and a gunslinger by his good friend Wyatt Earp. Holliday lived a violent life running from the law and killing other outlaw cowboys until tuberculosis felled him in 1887.
Peter Link wrote Sundown's contemporary country score with lyrics by Larry Rosler and a book by Rosler and Joe Bravaco. Link was a Tony nominee for his scores to Much Ado About Nothing and Neil Simon's The Good Doctor and co-composed the 1969 rock musical Salvation. Cheryl Denson directs Sundown, premiering April 19-May 4, 2002.
Children's Letters to God will feature five children revealing their sometimes comical, sometimes serious thoughts, feelings and doubts about God. David Evans wrote the music with lyrics by Cohen and a book by the book's writer Stuart Hample.
Lyric Stage will also revive Rodgers and Hammerstein's rarely performed Allegro, playing Feb. 15-March 2. Denson directs this ensemble piece which follows the life of musical theatre's Everyman, Joseph Taylor, Jr, a man who leaves his small Midwestern town a successful doctor, loses his way and his calling in the big city, then returns home, finally understanding who he is. Songs in the score include "A Fellow Needs a Girl," "So Far," "You Are Never Away," "The Gentleman Is a Dope," "Come Home" and the title tune. The 2001-02 season will also include the Southwest premiere of Abyssinia (Oct. 2-20) and the Lyric's annual concert, Dallas Divas!, playing March 8 and 9. In 2002, the Dallas Divas! will serenade the audiences with movie hits.
Subscriptions are $70-$110. The Irving Arts Center's Dupree Theater is located at 3333 North MacArthur Boulevard. For reservations, call (972) 2525-2787.
— By Christine Ehren