House of Flowers


I've been in love with the score of "House of Flowers" since I found the original cast recording in a second hand record shop in Chicago in the seventies.  The score by Harold Arlen and Truman Capote is one of the treasures of musical theatre.  The original production in 1954 was a critical and financial disappointment despite the glittering array of talent involved.  Pearl Bailey, Juanita Hall and the very young Diahann Carroll were the stars.  Peter Brook directed.  Balanchine did the choreography.  Oliver Messel designed the sets and costumes.  I've spoken to people who saw that original production and said it was one of the most beautiful things they ever saw.  What a thrill it was when I was asked to do a rewrite on the book for a revival starring Patti LaBelle in 1991.  The fabulous Geoffrey Holder directed, choreographed and designed this small touring production.  It only played for a few weeks at Westbury and Valley  Forge Music Theatres, but I have lovely memories of it. The phrase "force of nature" is sometimes bandied about too freely but Geoffrey Holder surely is one.  What a pleasure to e in his orbit if only for a few short weeks.  I'll never forget when the original set designer repeatedly tried to explain to Geoffrey that his ideas for the set were impossible to execute due to the limitations of the "in the round" theatres we were playing.  Geoffrey, in his most genie like tones proclaimed "Do not talk to me about limitations.  I call them challenges."  That's a pretty damn great way of looking at things.  Patti LaBelle was also a joy. A few months before rehearsals began, Patti was nervous about learning so many lines.  She had never been in a book musical before.  We got the whole cast together in a recording studio and recorded all the dialogue so she could listen to it while she was on tour with her act.  An actress playing one of the whores couldn't make it to the session so I filled in.  The theatre breeds such strange bedfellows.  I never thought I'd be sitting in a recording booth alone with Patti LaBelle.  Our tour only lasted a few weeks, but I've always hoped some enterprising producer would have the desire to mount a full production of my House of  Flowers adaptation.  Hope springs eternal.


Other Plays by Charles Busch
Plays 1976 - 1982    Plays 1984 - 1989    Plays 1991 - 2009     Musicals    Solo Performances

Other Stage Appearances
Auntie Mame    Little Me    The Maids

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