68 Songs, 2 Hours, 2 Minutes

TITLE TIME
4:39
1:04
1:25
0:55
2:16
1:04
2:51
0:26
0:49
0:08
3:46
0:23
1:34
0:37
0:52
2:40
3:25
4:49
0:33
0:36
3:04
0:26
0:31
0:55
3:17
0:53
0:29
1:15
1:09
2:58
0:57
0:30
2:25
1:27
6:20
8:02
0:33
0:34
0:32
1:00
1:58
3:04
0:24
2:41
5:44
0:08
2:25
1:46
0:26
4:51
1:01
2:22
0:18
2:24
0:34
3:12
1:13
1:50
1:13
0:51
2:48
0:41
0:18
0:37
0:35
1:13
4:07
1:08

Customer Reviews

5 out of 5

5 Ratings

5 Ratings

A Wonderful Keepsake of a Magnificent Musical!

lovesclassics,

DESSA ROSE is a wonderful 2-CD set that preserves the entire original Off-Broadway production of Ahrens and Flaherty's Drama Desk Award nominated folk opera about the relationship of two very different women in the Antebellum South. Dessa Rose, a pregnant runaway slave (played by the endearing La Chanze) is harbored by Ruth Sutton (played by the captivating Rachel York), a white woman whose slave owner husband has abandoned her and her daughter on their isolated farm. As Dessa gives birth and Ruth nurses both Dessa and her newborn child back to health, the wary and feisty women begin to learn what they have in common and finally develop a bond of friendship and trust. The two heroines go back and forth from being elderly narrators of their own tale to acting out their adventures as young women. Ten other very talented cast members perform the supporting roles of fellow runaways, slave traders, plantation owners, lovers, parents, sherriffs, and a reporter obsessed with writing a book about the rebellious Dessa Rose. Music underscores almost all of the narration and dialogue, creating an evocative mood throughout and making scene transitions smooth and clear. Traditional instruments add color and texture to the score that is packed with powerful choral pieces, lovely duets, humorous ensemble numbers and thrilling solos. The songs themselves range from gospel to folk to blues to spirituals. Standouts include La Chanze's "Twelve Children," a stirring anthem in which she recites an oral family history to her unnamed baby, and Rachel York's "At the Glen," a stunning ballad that pierces the heart with loneliness and despair. Both La Chanze and Rachel York were nominated for Drama Desk Awards for their performances in DESSA ROSE. So were co-stars Norm Lewis as the charming and clever runaway Nathan and Kecia Lewis as Ruth's loving Mammy, Dorcas. On this CD you'll hear why. Each actor brilliantly expresses through voice alone all the subtle nuances that were visible on stage. You get a very real sense of what each character is thinking and feeling, and you'll laugh and cry at how their characters - and relationships - deepen and evolve. The packaging for this terrific CD is every bit as professional as the sound mix and recording. The full libretto and all of the lyrics are presented in book form, complete with hard cover binding. A number of beautiful production photos are also included. This magnificent two-CD recording is a true keepsake. Even if you weren't lucky enough to see the show live as I was, you will cherish it as a milestone in theater history.

About Lynn Ahrens

Best known for her long-running partnership with composer Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens is a Tony Award-winning lyricist. Among their most popular work together are the Broadway musical Ragtime and the Fox animated film Anastasia.

A New York native, Ahrens graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in journalism and spent several years in advertising before she had the opportunity to write words and music for the Schoolhouse Rock! educational TV shorts (some of her contributions included "Interplanet Janet," "A Noun Is a Person, Place or Thing," and "Do the Circulation").

Her first collaboration with Flaherty was in 1985 for Theatreworks USA, a group specializing in youth-oriented theater. The off-Broadway musical Lucky Stiff followed in 1989 with music by Flaherty and book and lyrics by Ahrens. It also ran briefly on London's West End in 1997. The team's first Broadway musical was the one-act Once on This Island. Opening in 1990, it was accompanied by a cast recording on Masterworks Broadway and received eight Tony nominations, including the categories of best musical, book, and score. Ahrens also collaborated with composer Alan Menken on a musical version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol that premiered at Madison Square Garden in 1994.

Ahrens and Flaherty's most high-profile success to that point came in 1997 with the release of the Twentieth Century Fox animated film Anastasia. Based on the legend of the daughter of Russia's Tsar Nicholas II, the film earned Ahrens two Academy Award nominations, for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score (with Flaherty and David Newman) and Best Original Song "Journey to the Past" (with Flaherty). She and Flaherty also collaborated on its straight-to-video sequel, 1999's Bartok the Magnificent.

In the meantime, the Ahrens-Flaherty musical Ragtime premiered in Toronto in 1996, then ran in Los Angeles in 1997 before opening on Broadway in January 1998. An epic based on the 1975 novel by E.L. Doctorow about class issues in early 20th century New York, the production was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, winning four including Ahrens and Flaherty's score and Terrence McNally's book. The songwriting team's subsequent musicals included 2000's Seussical, 2002's A Man of No Importance, 2005's Dessa Rose and musical revue Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life, and 2007's The Glorious Ones. Among other work, including a teleplay for a 2004 TV version of her and Menken's A Christmas Carol, Ahrens also teamed with Flaherty for Little Dancer, a Degas-inspired musical that played at Kennedy Center in 2014. Their Rocky the Musical opened on Broadway that same year.

In April 2017, 20 years after the film, a stage version of Anastasia with a book by Terrence McNally opened on Broadway. The cast recording, Anastasia: The New Broadway Musical, arrived on the Broadway label two months later and debuted at the top of the Billboard Cast Albums chart. ~ Marcy Donelson

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