Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty—the industrious composers behind Seussical and the still-running A Man of No Importance—are onto their next project. Dessa Rose, a new piece set in the ante-bellum South, will have a workshop at Lincoln Center Theater in summer 2003. Donna Murphy and LaChanze will star.
Flaherty told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Ahrens' text was "like an opera libretto." Though the two usually work together while writing scores, this time Ahrens completed the lyrics before Flaherty wrote a note. The latter then turned to the piano and in six weeks had produced nearly an hour of music. The material came forth "like torrents," said Flaherty. "It has the potential to be my opera."
Describing the work, LaChanze told Playbill On-Line, "It's about a rebellious slave, and it's based on a true story. It's pretty powerful. Donna Murphy and I are the leads. We did one reading, the next stage is the workshop."
Flaherty told the Post-Gazette the show had a reading last June, while LaChanze said the piece would have a workshop in summer 2003.
La Chanze starred in Ahrens and Flaherty's Once on This Island and was a replacement actor in Ragtime. The duo recently wrote a song for LaChanze in honor of her husband, who died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.