‘Dora Hand’ Waits in Wings

In case the Laguna Playhouse can’t obtain the rights to “Big River,” artistic director Douglas Rowe is making plans to substitute “Dora Hand,” a frontier musical that he and Playhouse musical director Mark Turnbull have written.

The Playhouse board of directors is to see “Dora Hand” on Jan. 27 in a small-scale audition directed by Beth Hansen, who was scheduled to direct “Big River.”

“Dora Hand” is based on the true story of a singer from Boston who quit an operatic career in Europe and went west to Dodge City, where she was killed. Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson are said to have tracked down her assailant.

The Rowe-Turnbull collaboration had a workshop staging that ran for two weeks at the Playhouse’s Moulton Theatre during the summer of 1984.


Before the start of the current season, the board’s play-selection committee turned down Rowe’s recommendation to include a full-scale production of “Dora Hand” on the 1990-91 schedule.

Last September, when Rowe announced his resignation as Playhouse artistic director, which is to take effect in June, he said one of the main reasons for his departure was so that he could focus his efforts on finding a theater to stage the frontier musical. Rowe, 52, and Turnbull, 41, also have collaborated on “Manet,” a musical based on the life of the 19th-Century French painter. It received a huge Playhouse production two seasons ago.