Producer Brian Dorsey has commissioned and is developing the project based on the biography of the same name by Alice A. Carter, the award-winning illustrator and professor in the School of Art and Design at San Jose State University. A librettist has not been named.
Dorsey is aiming for a Broadway run in 2011-12.
The characters — world-famous illustrators Violet Oakley, Jessie Wilcox Smith, Elizabeth Shippen Green — are billed as three "of the most fascinating, rule-breaking, determined, acclaimed, accomplished and renegade artists of the early 20th century." The story also involves their friend and advocate Henrietta Cozens.
"The musical begins in 1906," according to production notes released on July 22. "[The women] are told that women are not designed to create art for money. The Red Rose Girls disagree. They are told that they are not to compete for coveted assignments at national magazines from men. The Red Rose Girls disagree. They are told that the grandest architectural and artistic commissions are not to be competed for by women. The Red Rose Girls disagree. They are abruptly reminded that the polite mores of the day socially prohibit women from acquiring real estate except within the partnership of conventional marriage. The Red Rose Girls vow never to marry as they promise to be each other's family with Henrietta accepting the conventional role of 'wife,' drawing the domestic blueprint for the home that would house their collective genius."
The group's name is borrowed from the home that they shared: the 17th-century Red Rose Inn in the village of Villanova, PA. Blumenkrantz received a Best Original Score Tony Award nomination for his songs in Urban Cowboy. He is a recipient of the BMI Harrington Award and the Dramatist Guild Jonathon Larson Memorial Musical Theatre Fellowship. Blumenkrantz has received song commissions from both Carnegie Hall and the Guggenheim's "Works and Process Program." Most recently, his songs have been recorded by Sutton Foster, Megan Mullally, Audra McDonald, Victoria Clark and Lauren Kennedy. A longtime member of the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, he published a songbook of his music in 2005 and simultaneously produced "The Jeff Blumenkrantz Songbook Podcast," which featured live performances of these songs. The podcast episodes can still be heard by visiting iTunes or www.jeffblumenkrantz.com. He also produced and hosted the BMI Workshop Songbook Podcast, featuring never-before available music by members and alumni of the workshop. Visit www.bmiworkshopsongbook.com.
Producer Dorsey is a writer, creative producer and executive consultant involved in a wide range of political and philanthropic fundraising activities. He is a principal owner of Sellers Dorsey, a national healthcare consulting firm. The focus of his philanthropic activities includes: The Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council of the Democratic National Committee, Victory PA, The Gill Foundation, the Allen's Lane Art Center of Philadelphia and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Dorsey currently sits on the board of directors of The Trevor Project.
For more information (and to view a video) about the real-life characters that inspired the new musical, visit www.RedRoseGirlsTheMusical.com.