Dorian Gray

2003 Winner Directors’ Choice Award Competition

Gabriel Barre, Guest Artistic Director

Synopsis

ACT ONE

The place - Madison Square Garden. The time - August, 2000. Dorian Gray, a rock superstar, is concluding his farewell concert, performing the song that made him a star thirty-five years before, "ROCK 'N' ROLL FOREVER." Backstage, Dorian, a man in his fifties who looks like twenty-three, and his white-haired record producer/manager Henry Wotton greet the press. Dorian begins to reminisce about the beginnings of his career, "a much simpler time."

It is now 1965, and a political rally is taking place in a Greenwich Village coffeehouse. Dorian's best friend, photographer Bessie Hallward, introduces him to a youthful Henry Wotton, an up-and-coming record producer. When Henry hears Dorian sing "EYE OF THE STORM," he is immediately impressed by Dorian's talent as a singer and songwriter and invites him to record a demo. Dorian begs off, and that night ne and a group of protesters travel to Selma, Alabama, to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to Montgomery. Reverend Arthur Vane and his two children, seventeen-year-old Sybil and nineteen-year-old James, lead the group across the bridge ("CROSSIN OVER"), but they are held back by police with their dogs and tear gas.

In her New York loft apartment, Bessie struggles with her unspoken love for Dorian and her loyalty to her husband Bill and their infant daughter, Annie ("TODAY") Unknown to Bessie, however, Dorian has fallen in love with Sybil. He asks her to return to New York with him, but she tells him that she needs to be there when her father "finally crosses that bridge." Besides, she hasn't told her father about their love and in 1965 Alabama, there's one "tiny" problem - "you're white." Dorian says that he doesn't care what other people will think, and sings "WHITE KNIGHT,” a love song he has written for her.

Shortly after his return from Alabama, Dorian and Bessie are in Washington Square Park. Henry shows up and persists in his attempts to lure the reluctant Dorian into the recording studio. He reminds Dorian that a rock star has "five, maybe ten years at most in limelight and warns Dorian that "TIME" is fleeting. Dorian finally agrees to give it a shot. Henry hands Bessie an antiquated box camera and tells Bessie to take a picture of Dorian to "record this moment for posterity." A few weeks later, at Bessie's loft, Henry tries to dissuade Dorian from marrying Sybil, but Dorian is resolute and says nothing is more important to him. "Not even your first single as a Regal Records artist?" Henry replies, brandishing the brand new recording. Then Bessie emerges from her darkroom with a framed, poster-sized photograph of Dorian - the picture she shot with Henry's camera. The three of them are awestruck as they gaze at this amazing photograph, one that captures, as Henry remarks, "all the innocence, the exquisite possibilities of youth." Staring at the picture, Dorian impulsively makes a wish that he stay young forever while the image of him ages. "For what, I would give my soul," he whispers ("THE WISH').

Dorian's first record rockets up the charts. He is slowly being seduced by that he is a rock star, and Sybil is becoming a distant memory. Meanwhile, in Alabama, James has returned from boot camp and finds his sister at the piano singing "White Knight." She is not only still in love with Dorian - she also five months pregnant with his Child. When Reverend Vane discovers her condition, and that the father is a "white boy," he insists that she must give the baby up for adoption. Sybil furious at the suggestion, runs off to New York to find Dorian ("WHEN I FIND MY MAN") and tracks him to the Regal Records office. At first, he is thrilled to see her, but when he realizes the situation, he needs to make a choice. He cruelly rejects Sybil who rushes out of the office in tears.

Dorian, now home in his new partial townhouse, is desperately trying to locate Sybil to apologize. Suddenly, he notices that the photograph has somehow changed, subtly reflecting his cruelty to Sybil. He begins to realize that the wish he made may weIl have come true ("THE CHANGE"). As he vows to make it up to the one person who can "save me from myself," Bessie rushes in, followed by Henry, to tell Dorian the tragic news - Sybil is dead. Distraught, he decides that since his lost love no longer can help him, he is doomed to a life of sin and he may as well enjoy the ride ("DOWN, DOWN, DOWN"), Through this musical montage, more than twenty years fly past for the ageless star as he is immersed deeper and deeper first into the sixties counterculture, and then into the high-flying, drug-influenced work of rock 'n' roll. Along the way, he begins to alienate old friends like Bessie Hallward, who learns that her husband has left her and her daughter Annie. When a stoned Dorian offers no moral support, she angrily walks off, while the partying goes on. As his personal deteriorates, his professional life ascends to the heights of superstardom.

ACT TWO

A strung-out James Vane is amongst a crowd visiting the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Veteran's Day, 1999 ("FORGOTTEN MEN'). Seeing James's condition, a fellow veteran, Doctor Kramer, invites him to the rehab clinic he operates. Then, on the following Christmas Eve, Dorian's assistant, Vicki Blair, receives an unexpected telephone call It is Bessie Hallward, now a world famous photographer, who Dorian hasn't spoken to in over twenty years. Dorian, not knowing how to respond, refuses to take the call, but Bessie decides to come see him in person. As she walks to Dorian's house, she and Dorian recall the lost opportunities they had to become something more than friends ("THINGS! NEVER SAID") When Bessie arrives at the townhouse, the two of them begin to awkwardly explore this new aspect of their relationship until Bessie asks about the photograph. "It was defaced," Dorian evasively answers. He decides to share his secret with her and takes her to his basement recording studio, where the photograph is hidden beneath a tarp. She cannot believe that this is the same photo as the one she took in Washington Square Park. Dorian explains about his wish, telling her it came true. Bessie is now truly frightened for Dorian and tries to calm him,

but Dorian grabs her. As she tries to pull away, she accidentally falls, gravely injuring herself. Dorian kneels at her side and rises with blood on his hands. He begins to dial 911 in a last-minute attempt to save her, but then hangs up before anyone answers.

While a desperate Dorian contacts an old mobster friend, AI Di Campo, to help dispose

of Bessie's body, Henry and his fellow guests are at a restaurant, worried about Bessie's failure to show up for dinner ("WHERE'S BESSIE?"). During the number, the concern reaches a fever pitch and ends with the entrance of Annie Hallward, now 35, who flown in from England to help investigate her mother's disappearance. When Dorian and Annie meet unexpectedly at the police station, Dorian is stunned by her amazing resemblance to Bessie Annie hugs Dorian and asks for assurance that "everything's going to be okay," He is overwhelmed by feelings of guilt

A month later at the rehab center, Doctor Kramer is trying to keep James from leaving prematurely. Hoping for assistance in his effort, he has summoned the elderly Reverend Vane

from Alabama. James is shocked and infuriated by his father's presence. He vows vengeance against the man who ruined his sister and blames his father for allowing it to happen. James can't escape the image of his sister sitting at the piano "singing that song - always that song." ("GONE IS THE LIGHT")

Meanwhile, the police investigation into Bessie Hallward's disappearance has turned up very little. Lieutenant John Mayfair is still curious about the phone call that Bessie made to

Dorian, and discovers in an interview with Henry that the singer did not share that information with his long-time manager. The next day, Annie drops by unexpectedly at Henry's office. When she confides in him her growing feelings for Dorian. Henry, his suspicions raised by his meeting with Mayfair, tries to steer her away from any further involvement with Dorian. But Annie tells Henry about her last phone call with Bessie on the night she disappeared. "My mother told me that if I ever found the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, I shouldn't let anything stand in the way." She breaks down and Henry, to console her, joke about being a tired old man ("IT GETS OLD').

The next evening, at Dorian's townhouse, Annie confronts Dorian about his unwillingness to commit. Dorian, without admitting his role in Bessie's death, confesses to Annie that he's done terrible things and "I can't just go back and change them." But she tells Dorian that everyone deserves a "SECOND CHANCE" She walks out leaving Dorian to confront his demons.

Some months later, James Vane, still sober, returns home from work, flicks on the  radio and hears Dorian Gray singing "White Knight" - "that song." Enraged and now focused oh his prey, James knows exactly what he needs to do ("GONE IS THE UGHT- REPRISE").

Once again, the scene shifts to backstage at Dorian's farewell concert. Dorian has decided to enter a new phase of his life by leaving show business and marrying Annie. In Dorian's dressing room, when Henry hears of Dorian's intentions, is incensed and finally reveals that his camera was the source of the enchanted photograph. Dorian, now equally furious, blames all of his self-destruction on Henry and, in a cathartic moment, admits to his involvement in Bessie's death ("SHOWDOWN"). When a stunned Henry tells Dorian that "this nightmare has to end," Dorian challenges, "And how are you going to do that, old man?" He walks out of the

dressing room as James Vane, disguised as a roadie, approaches and shoots him. James is then gunned down by Dorian's bodyguards. Dorian is pushed back into the dressing room from the impact of the bullets. Henry, barking orders, sends everyone away and picks up the gun from James Vane's hand. When he returns to the dressing room, Dorian, amazed at the proof of his invincibility, says. "They can't kill me," Henry replies, "Wrong target," and shoots photograph. Dorian collapses and dies.

At a memorial service in Central Park the following evening a loyal crowd of fans say their last goodbyes ("FINALE") The tortured life of Dorian Gray has ended - but his shining legend lives on.

Have you written a MUSICAL?
Would you like it PRODUCED?
Mainstreet evaluates new musicals and each year selects three for presentation by regional MainStreet Affiliates around the country.
Submit A Musical MainStreet Cities