A theatregoer is so used to the Denver Center Theatre Company springing new works on its audience that the appearance of two recent scripts from New York comes as something of a shock.
The prodigious resident nonprofit, which recently gave us the world premieres of The Laramie Project, Waiting to Be Invited and A Hotel on Marvin Gardens, presents the Mile High City premieres of Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan (seen in London and New York) and Warren Leight's Tony Award-winning play, Side Man (seen Off-Broadway, on Broadway and, recently, in London).
The Irish-kissed Cripple opens in DCTC's Space Theatre March 23 (following previews since March 16), under the direction of Bruce Sevy, and continues to April 22.
Side Man, the American play about a musician husband and father's immersion in jazz (to the exclusion of his family), directed by Randal Myler, begins previews March 23 at DCTC's Stage Theatre, opening March 20 and continuing to April 22.
* McDonagh, who penned the plaintive, menacing Beauty Queen of Leenane, seen earlier this season by DCTC, this time offers an offbeat comedy set in 1934 on a wind-battered island off Ireland's west coast. It centers on the life of Cripple Billy, a teen who stares at cows and longs to be called just "Billy." When he hears of a Hollywood director filming on a nearby island, he embraces his dreams of escape.
Set designer Vicki Smith's wood plank and cobblestone set suggests various locales on the bleak island. The costume designer is Andrew V. Yelusich, lighting is by Charles R. MacLeod and sound designer is Matthew C. Swartz.
The cast includes Kathleen M. Brady, Gordana Rashovich, Tony Church and Christopher Kelly as Cripple Billy and Morgan Hallet as Helen.
Tickets are $25 to $36.
Side Man playwright Warren Leight's father was a jazz musician side man, and he drew on that world in his memory play narrated by Clifford, who tells his family's story: His skilled and passionate trumpet player father's career is crumbling as jazz and swing give way to the rise of rock-and-roll. Clifford tries to find a way out of his dysfunctional family life by examining the people who comprised the world he remembers. He tries to understand, and finally forgive, his parents.
Designers are Vicki Smith (set), David Kay Mickelsen (costumes), Don Darnutzer (lighting) and David R. White (sound).
The cast includes Lynnda Ferguson (returning to Denver where she played Nellie Forbush in DCTC's South Pacific) as Patsy, Jamie Horton (Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde) as Gene, Jeanne Paulson (Molly Sweeney) as Terry, John Hutton (The Winter's Tale) as Jonesy, Randy Moore (The Winter's Tale) as Al, Mark Rubald (Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde) as Ziggy and Christopher Collet (TV's "The Langoliers") as Clifford.
Ticket are $23-$28 for previews, $25-$36 for regular performances.
DCTC performs at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex, 14th and Curtis Streets, in Denver. For information, call (303) 893-4100 or (800) 641-1222, or check out the web site at www.denvercenter.org.
-- By Kenneth Jones