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Playhouse picks Busch’s ‘Flowers’

Adaptation to highlight 2003 season in Pasadena

Charles Busch’s new adaptation of the 1954 Broadway musical “House of Flowers” highlights the 2003 season at the Pasadena Playhouse.

Currently represented on Broadway with “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife,” Busch has reworked the Harold Arlen-Truman Capote tuner with his longtime director Kenneth Elliott, who helmed the scribe’s first work, “The Vampire Lesbians of Sodom,” in 1985.

The Pasadena Playhouse version of “House of Flowers” will be Busch’s second round with the tuner about a madam and her prostitute protegee. He previously refashioned the musical as a vehicle for Pearl Bailey and Diahann Carroll.

“The problem with the show has been that the madam was the more interesting character, and she kind of disappears at the end of the musical,” Busch said. “Now, her story is the major thrust of the show.”

Busch first reworked the show in 1991 for Patti LaBelle. Elliott has joined him for the Pasadena Playhouse version. As for the major difference between the two adaptations, Busch said, “This one is much better.”

“House of Flowers” will play June 20-July 27, 2003.

Other productions in next year’s season at the Pasadena Playhouse include the world premiere of James Still’s “Looking Over the President’s Shoulder” (January-February); Gary Socol’s “Bicoastal Woman,” starring JoBeth Williams (April-June); and Douglas Carter Beane’s “As Bees in Honey Drown” (August-September).

The theater company also presents the U.S. premiere of Noel Coward’s “Star Quality” next March.

First published as a short story in 1951, “Star Quality” later was adapted for the theater by Coward. His comedy about a young playwright’s clash with stage divas, however, never received a full production on stage until last season when Christopher Luscombe’s reworking of “Star Quality” was presented in London starring Penelope Keith.