Entertainment Weekly

Subscribe

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

Dessa Rose

Posted on

Dessa Rose

type:
Stage
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
03/21/05
performer:
Rebecca Eichenberger, Norm Lewis
director:
Graciela Daniele
author:
Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty

We gave it a B-

Earnestness is by no means an undesirable quality in a show, yet Dessa practically drowns in its own good intentions. This you-go-girl tale for the Civil War era gives us not one but two trailblazing heroines: the titular runaway slave (LaChanze) and a liberal white woman (Rachel York), either one of whom could merit her own musicalization. A fine ensemble keeps the production humming (Norm Lewis is particularly poignant as a slave who works his way into his mistress’ heart), but Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s score lacks the soul-stirring lift of another period piece, their 1997 masterwork Ragtime.