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Dorian

Beauty To Its Beholder

Dorian is a rock musical that Ted Dykstra and I began writing in 1987 or 88 (I can't quite remember).  I wrote the libretto and Ted wrote the music. It is loosely based on The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, which has been adapted widely for stage, screen, radio and just about any other medium you can imagine.  Our version is a rock musical that takes place from the 1960s to the 1990s.

The characters are somewhat based on the ones in Wilde's story.  Dorian (single name only) is a young scruffy hippy who is transformed into a male super model by an agent, Rhonda Westgate (a female version of Lord Henry Wotton), after fashion photographer, Norman Pearl (a thinly-disguised Basil Hallward), takes his photograph.  Norman's assistant, Rose (standing in for Sibyl Vane,) is Dorian's doomed love interest.  The cast of characters is rounded out by the Portrait, who has some of the best songs (in my opinion).  

This project has had a long and tortuous history, including workshops and performances at the Blythe Festival, Video Cabaret, the Tarragon Extra Space and St. Anne's Church (Dundas & Dufferin).  At one time there was even a New York producer interested in the show (due to the success of a show Ted had created with Richard Greenblatt called 2 Pianos, 4 Hands, which played off-Broadway and in London's West End).

In all, Dorian went through umpteen various incarnations and rewrites right up to 1997 or 98 (again, I can't quite remember).  I have quite a number of cassette tapes and a CD of demo recordings created in Ted's various home studios, McClear Pathe Studios and live performances.  A web site was created by our friend, Stephen Caswell, who also put together a CD (comprised of some of the McClear sessions and live performances), which can be purchased on CD Baby

Dorian has been pretty much dead as a door nail for the past ten years.  Every now and then I listen to the CD and am still mostly impressed by the level of song writing (you can listen to samples at either DorianRocks or the CD Baby page).  For the most part I have been happy to let Dorian rest in peace, rationalizing to myself that some things are not meant to be. Nevertheless, the last time Ted and I met (in June), we talked about trying to drum up interest in a concert version of Dorian.  This recently led me to look at the last script we put together from our last workshop performance.

Having just finished a draft of my novel and looking over the other writing projects I have planned, I felt a sudden urge to revise the Dorian script.  Ten years is certainly enough time to look at a piece of work with "fresh eyes" and it was very clear to me what I needed to do to streamline the script so that every song pushes the narrative forward.  I suppose the past ten years I've spent plying my craft as a fiction writer may have had something to do with it, too.  The chance to revisit this work-in-progress has reinforced a long-held belief that there are no short cuts through the creative process.  I know Ted has always harboured the belief that Dorian will have its day at some point.  Who knows if that will happen?  Still, I can't get a bit of lyric that runs throughout Dorian out of my head: 

Beauty to its beholder 
will never really die 
as time passes him by
quicker than the eye.