The Enduring Allure of Dorian Gray

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Other stage musicals also exist, at least one being a serious Opera  which has garnered critical acclaim. It's likely that a Broadway version will find its niche in the not-very-distant future. The country is already dotted with other “Dorian” musicals, one which places the action in modern (yet pre-Katrina) New Orleans.

When I first began writing my version of “Dorian” in the mid 1980's no other musical version existed. The idea of a dramatic musical based on a Gothic Horror novel was an unusual and not easily embraced idea. Now, in the wake of “Phantom” and “Jekyll,” the notion is of course no longer strange. So other people have subsequently arrived at the same good idea of adapting the last, and some think greatest of the Victorian Gothic stories to the musical stage.


The Matthew Bourne ballet

Perhaps the story's strong indictment of youth-obsessed culture is a central reason why people are finding renewed relevance in “Dorian.” The fable also warns about the dangers and potential evils of self-absorption, of rampant consumerism, and dramatically depicts what the “rewards” of immortality could actually be.
People are uneasy about many aspects of modern life, and I think perhaps it's a common guilt that people share, knowing that much of their existence is spent in pursuing pleasure for its own sake. Many of us are experiencing the same cycle of ultimately meaningless self absorption which turns Dorian's soul into something which is “loathsome of visage” as Wilde described it in his famous and haunting book.

Dorian Gray has his immortality cut short, but the same is certainly not true of the book bearing his name. Wilde's creation is a truly immortal literary classic which bears no signs of becoming a dusty museum piece, but rather, it keeps finding fresh and vital meaning for each new generation.
People of conscience will always find importance in "Dorian Gray." 
The young man in Wilde's book thinks he can have eternal youth without the burden of a conscience – the same force which is sometimes described as the soul, and without which, life cannot exist.
Randy Bowser December 2008