Set in the in the antebellum South, a young black woman and a young white woman take a dangerous journey en route to mutual acceptance.
Dessa Rose is based on the novel by Sherley Anne Williams. It premiered at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre in 2005 as part of the theater’s 2004-2005 season.
It has a book by Lynn Ahrens, score by Ahrens + Flaherty and was directed and choreographed by Graciela Daniele.


World Premiere March 21, 2005 at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre, Lincoln Center Theatre.

“The work of Ahrens, the composer Stephen Flaherty and director/choreographer Graciela Daniele achieves overwhelming power. The most affecting love story currently on the New York stage.”

-The Financial Times, UK

“Thought-provoking drama told by one of the musical theatre’s most talented writing teams.”

“Mr. Flaherty and Ms. Ahrens…continue to see the humanist potential in the medium, writing musicals that explore the struggles of men and women.”

-New York Times

Production Gallery

Photos by Joan Marcus

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Show Credits

Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre
Produced by Lincoln Center Theatre
(André Bishop, Artistic Director; Bernard Gersten, Executive Producer)
Associate Producer: Ira Weitzman

Book and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Based on the novel “Dessa Rose” by Sherley Anne Williams
Music orchestrated by William David Brohn and Christopher Jahnke
Vocal Arrangements by Stephen Flaherty
Musical Director: David Holcenberg
Directed and choreographed by Graciela Daniele
Scenic Design by Loy Arcenas
Costume Design by Toni-Leslie James
Lighting Design by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer
Sound Design by Scott Lehrer
Prop Design by Faye Armon
Conductor/Keyboard: David Holcenberg
Associate Conductor, Keyboard: Deborah Abramson
Percussion: Norbert Goldberg
Bass: David Phillips
Violin: Natalie Cenovia Cummins
Cello: Anik Oulianine
Reeds: Thomas A. Christensen
Guitars, Banjo: Greg M. Utzig
Music Coordinator: John Miller
Music copyist: Emily Grishman
Synth programming: Stuart Andrews
General Manager: Adam Siegel
Press Representative: Phillip Rinaldi Publicity
Production Stage Manager: Arturo E. Porazzi
Production Manager: Jeff Hamlin
Company Manager: Matthew Markoff
Casting: Alan Fildermann
Marketing: Linda Mason Ross
Dialect Coach: Deborah Hecht
Fight Coordinator: Tom Schall

Rebecca Eichenberger  Ruth’s Mother, others
Tina Fabrique  Rose/Ada/Auntie Chole, others
Michael Hayden  Adam Nehemiah
David Hess  Sheriff, Trader Wilson, Bertie Sutton, others
LaChanze   Dessa Rose
Kecia Lewis   Dorcas/Field Hand/Gemina/Janet
Norm Lewis   Nathan
William Parry   Robert Steele, Mr. Oscar, Sheriff, others
Soara-Joye Ross   Annabel and others
James Stovall  Harker/Field Hand
Rachel York   Ruth
Eric Jordan Young  Kaine/Field Hand/Phillip

Understudies: Don Burroughs (Adam Nehemiah, Oscar, Sheriff, Bertie, Wilson), Joan Hess, (Ruth, Ruth’s Mother, Susannah), Kenita R. Miller (Dessa Rose, Annabel), Paul Oakley Stovall (Nathan, Harker, Kaine, Phillip), NaTasha Yvette Williams (Dorcas, Janet, Rose, Ada, Chole)