THE MAKING OF DARCELLE THE MUSICAL
For the past 2 1/2 years playwright/producer/actor/lyricist/writer Donnie (Don Horn) has been working on telling the story of a man at the age of 37 became a drag sensation before it was ‘popular’. “How did a man put on a dress, sell a ticket, and stay in business for over 50 years? Why, he’s been in business longer than Starbucks!”
Reaching out to those in the community that have either been influenced by Walter W. Cole/Darcelle or have enjoyed sharing the stage, and wanted to be part of this local icon’s story - thus a musical began to develop.
There will be 8 original songs and 9 songs that have been performed over the years at Darcelle XV Showplace. For the original songs, here are those who helped Donnie with additional lyrics and their own music!
Tom Grant received his first ‘big break’ down in the basement of Caffe’ Espresso on 2nd in Portland. The space was called Studio A and was a jazz club for a couple years. Tom has said, “This was the first and basically the only time my dad and mom got to see me perform professionally.” The collaboration between Donnie and Tom is a song entitled Aunt Lil. Based upon the memory of Walters dear Aunt, Lil.
Marv and Rindy Ross produced/performed shows at the Aladdin Theater in SE Portland and Darcelle would perform with them. Marv’s memory is when Darcelle did a stand up routine based upon the craze “Clap on/Clap off” devices. The audience was in hysterics. The collaboration between Donnie, Marv, and Rindy has become the celebration song of the show, I’m happy as a clam, yes I am!
Storm Large has Darcelle perform at her Christmas shows where he reads ‘Twis The Night Before Christmas as he makes it his own - with a little sugar (nice) and spice (naughty). When Donnie, Darcelle and Storm sat down the thought was about the relationship between Roxy and Darcelle - 47 years - the song that birthed out of it is “Every Show Is A Love Song - for 50 years!”
Wesley Bowers agreed to collaborate with Donnie on one of the darkest songs of the show “Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell Anyone”, but a song that says, in few words many feelings.
Jonathan Quesenberry has collaborated with Donnie over the years from the musical Ari-Maria (about Aristotle Onassis and Maria Callas) to Gracie about none other than Gracie Hansen. Their collaboration on this musical deals with how Walter Cole experienced full drag make up for the first time. The song, “Painting You”.
Rody Ortega is well known on the west coast working at various theatres such as Artist Rep, OSF and others. Donnie reached out to work with Rody on four songs - three are currently in the show; “What’s A Name”, “Sewing”, “Life is for the Living”. The other song, “Side By Side” isn’t included due to script changes.
Jeff Sanders worked along side Rody Ortega on finessing lyrics for the four songs “What’s a Name”, “Sewing”, “Life is for the Living” and “Side By Side”.
Thank you for taking time to take this journey with all of us.
Behind the scenes photos
These are just a few of the photos at Walter/Darcelle’s home where the songwriters have performed their songs for Walter/Darcelle. Donnie began the lyrics and the songwriters took over and developed unique songs for this musical.