As a widower, Bob Scales, dean emeritus of the USC School of Dramatic Arts and associate director of the USC Emeriti Center, understood the emotional devastation of losing a spouse.
It was Scales who brought Sexy Widows, a musical created by writer June August, the widow of Jay Zorn, former professor at the USC Thornton School of Music, and her writing partner, Sonny Fox, to the Emeriti Center.
“The Emeriti Center is always looking for ways to provide value, resources and engagement to USC retirees and the Trojan Family,” said Janette Brown, the center’s executive director. “Based upon the talents and interests of our retirees, we offer numerous, unique opportunities. This creative project was a chance to explore issues of loss within an artistic venue.”
The show’s origin took shape nearly seven years ago when August and Fox talked about the difficult and challenging phases of being a widow. Fox suggested to August that they write a book of uplifting poems about the subject.
“I write books and plays and songs,” August replied at the time. “Why don’t we write a musical?”
Their talks led to the first performance of Sexy Widows in 2008 for family, friends and colleagues. The show received positive feedback, but it was still evolving.
“Getting it down on paper was therapeutic,” August said. “The dialogue and lyrics expressed: This hurts and I hate it, but it won’t stop me and I won’t let it get me down.”
The story follows two widows and two widowers — searching for what’s next: new love, companionship, a dream long forgotten — something that brings joy and significance to their lives. The characters approach their journey through songs and music with a mix of humor, pathos and amusing revelations.
Sexy Widows was performed at the 24th Street Theatre in Los Angeles on June 1. John Gaspari, executive director of the USC Center for Work and Family Life and this year’s recipient of the USC President’s Award for Staff Achievement, hosted a discussion about widowhood featuring the show’s creators after the performance.
The next show will be on June 7 at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit twowidowsproductions.com/ or call (818) 203-1984.
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