Ogden Nash's Custard the Dragon comes alive Oct. 28 in the world premiere of composer Brad Ross' Custard the Dragon and the Wicked Knight, a concert for two actors and orchestra, part of the Westchester Philharmonic's Philharmaniacs family program in Purchase, NY.
Ross, the composer known for his Off-Broadway musical, Little By Little, set the Nash text verbatim, he told Playbill On-Line, borrowing musical themes from an earlier Custard book he set to music — The Tale of Custard the Dragon, also heard by the Philharmonic.
Both concerts are being developed into a stage musical that will be seen at The Kennedy Center in 2002, the 100th anniversary of poet-writer Nash's birth.
"The style is classical, tonal, boisterous, tuneful," Ross explained. "It's rooted classically but right now it has one foot on the concert hall and one foot on the stage."
Ross draws on poet-writer Nash's book (published by Little Brown) to create a madcap show about Custard, the cowardly dragon, who saves the day and shows what true heroes are made of. Characters include Custard, Belinda, Ink the cat, Blink the mouse and Mustard the dog — performed by Roger Seyer and Karen Elliott of Broadway's Les Miserables. This is the third work of Ross' performed by The Westchester Philharmonic, following A Family for Baby Grand (narrated by Lucie Arnaz and later presented by other orchestras) and The Tale of Custard the Dragon (Ogden Nash's first volume).
Tickets are $15. Custard will be heard 2 PM and 3:30 PM Oct. 28 at The Performing Arts Center at the State University of New York in Purchase, NY. For reservations or information, call (914) 682-3707 ext. 10.
Ross' three-character Off-Broadway musical, Little By Little, written with lyricists Ellen Greenfield and Hal Hackady, was seen at the York Theatre in January 1999, with Darrin Baker, Liz Larsen and Christiane Noll, who are heard on a cast album. It gets its Wisconsin premiere later this season at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.
— By Kenneth Jones