Kathleen Marshall (Broadway's The Pajama Game, Wonderful Town) will direct the re-examination of the 1960 musical by late songwriter Willson ( The Music Man) and librettist Richard Morris. Tony Award nominee Dick Scanlan, the lyricist and book writer of Broadway's Thoroughly Modern Millie, is writing a new book that is expected to offer a fuller picture of the colorful Brown. The Willson estate has given him permission to go into the songwriter's trunk to see how the story can be fleshed out with additional music.
Tammy Grimes won a Best Featured Actress Tony playing the feisty Gold Rush-era character, whose watchcry was "I Ain't Down Yet." Debbie Reynolds starred in the movie version and toured with the show in her later career.
There are plans for future commercial development of the project. This marks the first time a musical has been part of the New Play Summit.
Four Denver Center commissions are also part of the New Play Summit, which will run Feb. 12-14, 2009, offering readings and panels for an industry crowd.
Two fully produced world-premiere productions playing DCTC stages purposely coincide with the Summit dates: Inana by Michele Lowe and Dusty and the Big Bad World by Cusi Cram. DCTC artistic director Kent Thompson, director of new play development Bruce Sevy and literary manager Douglas Langworthy have selected the following new works to present to artistic directors, literary managers, dramaturgs, directors and press representatives who will travel to Denver Feb. 12-14:
When Tang Met Laika by Rogelio Martinez, commissioned by the Denver Center Theatre Company and Magic Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation New Science & Technology Plays Initiative: "In the 1990s Americans and Russians started to work together building the International Space Station. With more than a half century of hostilities under their space suits, can two old foes start to trust one another again? A play about the cold war warming up, a space shuttle program finding its purpose as it nears retirement, one very large robotic arm, weightlessness and a gun." When Tang Met Laika was workshopped at the 2008 New Works Festival (Andrew Leynse, artistic director) at Perry Mansfield Performing Arts Camp in Steamboat Springs, CO.
Flooded by Julie Marie Myatt, commissioned by the Denver Center Theatre Company: "A star TV meteorologist turns oracle when he abandons bland L.A. for the wilder weather of North Carolina. As natural disasters mount world-wide, William unknowingly channels an on-camera voice of doom that ties extreme climate events to the sins of mankind. Despite the show's popularity, he finds to his sorrow that telling truth to power may cost him everything he holds dear. Playwright Myatt deftly plucks the dark threads of myth, folk tale, and religious prophecy that lie unquiet beneath the surface of modern existence." The 2009 Colorado New Play Summit will also include a nationally-known panel of artistic directors discussing "What's New for New Plays?" Artistic director Thompson will moderate the discussion joined by panelists Polly Carl, producing artistic director of The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis; John Clinton Eisner, producing director of the Lark Play Development Center in New York; and Janice Paran, dramaturg at the Sundance Institute Theatre Program. Another panelist will be announced later.
For more information and Summit registration visit www.denvercenter.org/summit or call (303) 893-6030.
With additional funding from the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, the Denver Center Theatre Company currently has commissioned new works from playwrights Jose Cruz Gonzalez, Jason Grote, Steven Cole Hughes, Octavio Solis and Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder.