Bryan D. Leys

Young Forever


Young Forever is a chamber musical adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Set in Hollywood, it explores the American fascination with the movies and their promise of eternal youth.

In 1928, Harry Wotton, a Hollywood columnist, is summoned to the home of Alice Hallwell, a screenwriter. Alice shows him the screen test of Dorian Gray, an astonishingly beautiful young man, and asks Harry to help promote him. Harry predicts a great future for Dorian, but warns him that once his looks fade, he’ll lose it all. Stricken by Harry’s words, Dorian makes a wish for the image on film to grow old while he remains young forever.

Plunging into Hollywood society, Dorian begins to adopt Harry’s cynical attitude. When his indifference to her love drives a girl to suicide, the image on the film takes on a hint of cruelty while his face remains untouched. Dorian sees the power of his terrible wish and after his initial horror, he accepts it. In Hollywood, nothing can stop a man who never ages.

Armed with a new invulnerability, he falls into a decadent lifestyle and finds new conquests in a young male screenwriter, and in Harry’s wife, Gladys. The years pass; Dorian becomes wildly successful, but also more and more aware that something is missing from his life. The loss of his ability to feel eventually drives him to madness.

Young Forever asks: What constitutes sin in our modern age? Is it to engage in unconventional behavior and petty vices? Or is corruption fueled by self-interest and a lack of compassion? In the glamorous world of Hollywood where physical beauty is gold, what is the price of a human soul?

Young Forever retells a familiar story with wickedly funny songs and hauntingly beautiful ballads. It is designed for seven actors, some of whom play multiple roles.

Cast of Characters (in order of their appearance)

Partygoers, actors, the young girl, prostitute, and other small roles are played by James, Sybil, Alan, and Gladys.

Alice Hallwell An artist, 30, Alto.
Harry Watson A gossip monger, 40, Baritone.
Dorian Gray A young actor, 20’s, Tenor.
James Dane Sybil’s brother, 30’s, Bass.
Gladys Watson Harry’s wife, 35-45, Alto.
Henrietta Samut A sweet young girl moving to Vienna, 16, Soprano.
Alan Crandall A young director, 25, Tenor.

Music Excerpts

Music by Steve Liebman