Moscow to welcome Salem man's musical

Financial crisis delayed debut of 'Dorian' adaptation

By Barbara Curtin Statesman Journal April 22, 2010

"Dorian-The Remarkable Mr. Gray," a musical by Randy Bowser of Salem, will have its long-delayed opening on a Moscow stage this spring.

Previews will start April 29 at the 250-seat Stas Namin Centre in Gorky Park. The play is scheduled to open in June.

The musical is a semi-operatic adaptation of Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray." It's about a handsome young man who gets his wish to remain forever young while his portrait records his increasing age and debasement.

Educated Russians are familiar with the work, Bowser said, and he easily found copies of the Russian translation when he was in Moscow supervising early rehearsals.

The international project has been in the works since "Dorian" opened at the Pentacle Theatre in April 2008. Michael Butler, the producer of the original "Hair" on Broadway, saw the play, liked it and arranged for it to be produced in Moscow by Stas Namin, the founder of the rock band Flowers.

Bowser worked with the Russian actors for three weeks in 2008. "Dorian" was supposed to open in 2009, but the repertory theater had to defer staging new productions because of ripples from the worldwide financial crisis.

The budget for the new production evidently doesn't include money to bring Bowser back, and he doesn't think he'll return to Moscow on his own.

"They're in the habit of videotaping rehearsals and performances, so I'm sure they will get some to me," he said.

From his 2008 trip, he knows that the production is likely to be much more colorful than the Pentacle debut. The complex rhyme structure he intended for the libretto is out the window, since "Russian has 10 syllables for one of ours," he said.

Meanwhile, Bowser has been focusing on writing music, collaborating with other musicians online and designing websites from his home. He hasn't been involved with the Pentacle since "Dorian."

"I have several subjects for another musical, but none has stuck yet," he said.

bcurtin@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6699