Desiree Roots is Dessa Rose in Civil War-Set Ahrens & Flaherty Musical at Richmond's Firehouse Theatre

News   Desiree Roots is Dessa Rose in Civil War-Set Ahrens & Flaherty Musical at Richmond's Firehouse Theatre
The Firehouse Theatre Project and Richmond CenterStage present Dessa Rose, the Civil War-set drama featuring the music of Tony-winning composers Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, which opened May 4, following previews that began May 2, at the Firehouse Theatre.

Directed by Richmond CenterStage executive director Richard M. Parison, Jr., the limited engagement continues through June 3. Dessa Rose is performed during Virginia's commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War and Emancipation.

"Dessa Rose is a musical about love, laughter, hope and a pair of unlikely heroines," said director Parison, Jr. in a statement. "I think particularly in Richmond, during the sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War and Emancipation, this piece has tremendous resonance."

The cast includes Desiree Roots as Dessa Rose, Stacey Cabaj as Ruth Sutton, Nicholas Aliff as Adam Nehemiah, Durron Tyre as Nathan, Katrinah Lewis as Dorcas, Stephanie Hill as Rose, Keydron Dunn as Kaine and Todd Patterson as Harker with Diana Carver, Fran Coleman, Laymetha Guy, Michael Hawke, Dale Leopold, Alana Thomas and Emmanuel Wray.

Based on the novel of the same name by Sherley Anne Williams, the musical, according to producers, "follows the lives of Ruth Sutton and the title character Dessa Rose. Ruth is a white woman abandoned by her husband and living on an isolated plantation. Dessa is an escaped slave on the run from a bloody slave rebellion. Dessa has a newborn infant to protect, and she seeks refuge on Ruth's farm. Hidden in this Alabama backwater, the two women's uneasy alliance ultimately transcends racial barriers as they find the strength to confront the world on their own terms. Based on imagined details of real events, their dangerous journey to freedom and self-realization makes for a musical that is by turns comic, tragic, uplifting and inspired."

Other members of the creative team include choreographer Karen Getz, music director Leilani Giles, scenic designer Todd Edward Ivins, costume designers Becky Cairns and Ann Hoskins, lighting designer Robert Perry, sound designer Trevor Wight, assistant stage manager Sharon Gregory and production stage manager Trevor Riley. Special post-performance talkbacks will be held May 10 with Waite Rawls, president and CEO of the White House of the Confederacy; and May 31 with University of Richmond president Ed Ayers and Christy Coleman, president of the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar.

The Firehouse Theatre is located at 1609 West Broad Street in Richmond, VA. For more information and tickets, call (804) 355-2001 or visit

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