Casting

Casting

Cast Size: Flexible Cast Size
Cast Type: Ethnic Roles
Dance Requirements: None

Character Breakdown

Dessa Rose

The Black protagonist, who ages from 16 to 80 over the course of the story. Tough, wary, intelligent and essentially vulnerable, she risks all for her child. As “Old Dessa,” she is a narrator, remembering her youth not only with anger but with wisdom and humor.

(Vocally, the performer cast as Dessa must have a strong D5 belt.)

Gender: female
Age: 35 to 45
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: G3
Ruth Sutton

The white protagonist, who ages from 20 to 80 over the course of the show. She is an upper-middle class woman of the pre-Civil War South, abandoned by her husband and trying to cope with a farm, an infant and her loneliness. She battles her upbringing and prejudices to do the right thing

Gender: female
Age: 30 to 45
Vocal range top: D5
Vocal range bottom: Ab3
Nehemiah

A white journalist who is caught between the conventions of his world and his dangerous attraction to Dessa.

Gender: male
Age: 30 to 40
Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: Bb2
Nathan

He is a runaway slave, a Black man with a kind heart, great sense of humor, capable and clever in the ways of survival. He will become Ruth’s lover, as they embark together on a dangerous journey.

Gender: male
Age: 30 to 40
Vocal range top: F#4
Vocal range bottom: A2
Bertie

White male. Ruth’s husband, charming and attractive at first, but later revealed as a thoughtless reprobate who abandons her. This character also plays various other southern men—an auctioneer, a sheriff, a brutal slave trader, etc. Must be capable of creating specific characters.

Gender: male
Age: 30 to 40
Vocal range top: A4
Vocal range bottom: A2
Master Steele/Mr. Oscar

White male character actor, capable of playing several specific roles: a cruel slave owner; as well as a funny, lecherous drunk. (Also doubles other character roles, including the decent Sheriff Pine.)

Gender: male
Age: 40 to 55
Vocal range top: B3
Vocal range bottom: C3
Harker

A Black slave and good friend to Nathan. He is attractive, warm and humorous. He is a character with leading man qualities who ends up winning the heart of Dessa. This actor doubles as JOSEPH.

Gender: male
Age: 30 to 45
Vocal range top: Bb4
Vocal range bottom: D3
Rose

An older Black character actor. She is tough, superstitious, deeply wary of whites and protective of Dessa. She has borne and lost eleven children to the ravages of slavery. Actor doubles as TINA, ADA, and AUNTIE CHLOE.

Gender: female
Age: 40 to 55
Vocal range top: C5
Vocal range bottom: F#3
Dorcas

An enslaved Black woman who raised and influenced Ruth, instilling in her young charge a compassion for others. This actor doubles as GEMINA (who helps Dessa escape) and JANET, another escaped slave.

Gender: female
Age: 40 to 50
Vocal range top: F#5
Vocal range bottom: G3
Kaine

The love of young Dessa's life and the father of her child. He is sexy, brash, masculine, and joyous. This young Black actor also doubles as ERIC and PHILIP.

Gender: male
Age: 25 to 40
Vocal range top: G4
Vocal range bottom: A2
Ruth's Mother

A mature, steely white woman. She is schooled in the ways of charm and knows how to manage slaves with grace and severity. Actor doubles as SUSANNAH (a flirtatious Southern belle.)

Gender: female
Age: 35 to 45
Vocal range top: G5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Ensemble
Parishioners; Auctioneers; Field Hands