Loesser's Obscure Musical, Señor Discretion, Expected at DC's Arena in 2003-04; Camelot Also Announced

News   Loesser's Obscure Musical, Señor Discretion, Expected at DC's Arena in 2003-04; Camelot Also Announced Arena Stage, the DC company perpetually busy developing new works, will present Frank Loesser's rarely seen, unfinished musical, Señor Discretion Himself, in 2003-04.
Frank Loesser
Frank Loesser

With a 1968 libretto by the late Loesser, whose book is being enhanced by the trio of Chicano-Latino artists known as Culture Clash, the show has music and lyrics by Loesser, the major musical theatre writer responsible for Guys and Dolls, The Most Happy Fella and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

The Arena season, which also includes artistic director Molly Smith directing Camelot a year after her hit revival of South Pacific, was announced on Arena's website April 14.

Charles Randolph-Wright, who staged Arena's Guys and Dolls with Maurice Hines (the troupe also toured), will direct the Loesser musical on the not-for-profit's Fichandler mainstage in April-May 2004. The company has not yet announced its new season.

Loesser's widow, Jo Sullivan, was so pleased with Arena's Guys and Dolls she gave permission for the material to be explored. Randolph-Wright and Culture Clash's Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza have been working on the piece in recent months.

According to Steven Suskin's book, "Show Tunes," the musical was written in the late 1960s and is an unfinished work based on a story by Budd Schulberg ("What Makes Sammy Run?"). Suskin reports Loesser spent two years working on the show about a "small-town, middle-aged Mexican baker." Some 17 songs were written for the show, and two — "I Cannot Let You Go," "You Don't Understand Me" — have been recorded. The material, which had been abandoned due to book issues before Loeser died in 1969, was workshopped in 1985, but nothing came of it. Arena Stage has made its season public on its website, www.arenastage.org.

Expected are:

  • Shakespeare in Hollywood by Ken Ludwig, directed by Kyle Donnelly, Sept. 5-Oct. 19, in the Fichandler. "A hilarious new comedy where we see A Midsummer Night's Dream come to life on a 1930s Hollywood soundstage."
  • Proof by David Auburn, directed by Wendy C. Goldberg, Oct. 3-Nov. 23, in the Kreeger. "The compelling story of a dynamic father-daughter relationship and the fine line between genius and insanity."
  • Camelot, the classic King Arthur musical, book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Frederick Loewe, directed by Arena artistic director Molly Smith, Nov. 14, 2003-Jan. 4, 2004, in the Fichandler.
  • Crowns, written and directed by Regina Taylor adapted from the book by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry, a co-production with the Alliance Theatre Company and the Goodman Theatre, Dec. 12, 2003- Feb. 15, 2004, in the Kreeger. "A spirited musical that explores the lives of southern African-American women through the hats they wear to church."
  • A Man's a Man by Bertolt Brecht, translated by Gerhard Nellhaus, directed by Alex Darie, Jan. 30-March 7, 2004, in the Fichandler. "Follow one man’s transformation from dock worker to elite soldier in Brecht’s amazing satirical comedy."
  • Yellowman by Dael Orlandersmith, directed by Tazewell Thompson, March 5-April 18, 2004, in the Kreeger. "Dealing with racial divides within the African American community, this provocative story reaches beyond skin color."
  • Orpheus Descending by Tennessee Williams, directed by Molly Smith, May 14-June 27, 2004, in the Kreeger. "This American classic will leave you spellbound with the intensity of its characters and storyline."