Bailiwick Chicago to Present Ahrens and Flaherty's Musical Drama Dessa Rose; Casting Announced
By Carey Purcell
The Chicago premiere of the historical musical drama Dessa Rose will be presented by Bailiwick Chicago beginning March 6 prior to an official opening March 9.
Featuring music by Stephen Flaherty and book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime, Once on This Island), the production will continue through April 5 at the Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theater.
Directed by artistic director Lili-Anne Brown and featuring music direction by James Morehead, Dessa Rose will feature Sydney Charles as Dessa Rose and Harmony France as Ruth with special guest artist Jayson "JC" Brooks as Nathan. The production will also feature Brigitte Ditmars, Gilbert Domally, Jasondra Johnson, Jaymes Osbourne, Steven Perkins, Pavi Proczko, David Schlumpf, Sasha Smith and Eunice Woods.
"Told as an oral history and related by two women, Ruth and Dessa Rose, this powerful tale of an unlikely friendship takes place in 1847, 14 years before the outbreak of the American Civil War," press notes state. "Based on both fact and fiction, the musical weaves together the stories of two legendary women, one white and one black, who struggled for different kinds of freedom in an era defined by men. Ruth Sutton is a white woman abandoned by her husband and living on an isolated farm. Dessa Rose is an escaped slave on the run from a bloody slave rebellion, with a newborn infant to protect, who seeks refuge with Ruth. Hidden in this Alabama backwater, the two women's uneasy alliance ultimately transcends any racial barriers as they find the strength to confront the world on their own terms. Their dangerous journey to freedom and self-realization makes for a musical that is by turns comic, tragic, uplifting and inspiring."
The creative team includes Megan Truscott (scenic designer), Samantha Jones (costume designer), Brian Hoehne (lighting designer), Patrick Bley (sound designer), Mary-Catherine Mikalayunas (stage manager) and Danny Bernardo (assistant director/dramaturg).
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