President's Showcase

Rheanne Walton

Artist Talk, 7:35 PM, Ballroom E
Poster Presentation, Ballroom D
A New Musical: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Supervising Professor: Dr. Chari Arespacochaga
Rheanne Walton, originally from Lawrence, Kansas, will complete her dual degree in Theatre and Marketing this May, 2024. Throughout her life she has been writing music and plays and this project is her second one-act musical. Rheanne was inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, which she read in high school and which captured her imagination ever since. After graduation, Rheanne plans to get involved in corporate events and continue developing her musical, hopefully culminating in a world premiere.


My project is a rock musical adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray centered on a modern queer high school storyline. I began my writing process researching the work of Stephen Sondheim, a prolific musical theatre composer. His book Finishing the Hat holds three tenets of musical theatre lyric writing: Content Dictates Form, Less is More, and God is in the Details which I strove to accomplish in my writing. Additionally, I researched popular musical adaptations that achieved what I was looking for including Shiek and Sater’s Spring Awakening, Dave Malloy’s Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, and Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar. This summer, my goal was to complete an entire first draft of the piece by working on 2 songs or scenes per week. I made many discoveries this summer, and even changed the setting from college to high school. Throughout this process, I also latched onto what I most connected with about The Picture of Dorian Gray: side character Basil Hayworth’s queer longing for the beautiful Dorian Gray. I freed myself from a complete echo of the novel and centered on Basil. As of now, I continue to edit this draft in preparation for a reading this fall and another this spring before the completion of my Honors in the Major project.

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