O'Malley Is Molly Brown in Denver Reading of Revised Musical; Kudisch Also Stars

The reading of a revised version of the brassy Meredith Willson musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown, part of the Feb. 12-14 Denver Center Theatre Company's Colorado New Play Summit, will feature Broadway's Kerry O'Malley in the title role, and Tony Award nominee Marc Kudisch as prospector JJ Brown.

Kerry O'Malley
Kerry O'Malley

The 1960 musical is being adapted by Thoroughly Modern Millie writer Dick Scanlan (based on Richard Morris' original libretto) to use more elements from the real-life story of the feisty, pioneer-era Denverite Brown, who survived the sinking of the Titanic.

Music and lyrics are by Meredith Willson ( The Music Man). A handful of songs from his extensive trunk are being used for this new version, Scanlan said. All music and lyrics in the show are by Willson, though because they're largely unknown, the numbers will feel like gold-mine discoveries for fans of the late American songwriter.

Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall ( Grease, The Pajama Game) will direct the reading. O'Malley starred in the recent revival of Into the Woods, and was Betty Haynes in Broadway's White Christmas. Kudisch's credits include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Thoroughly Modern Millie. He will also be seen later this season on Broadway in 9 to 5. The Molly Brown cast also includes William Parry as Horace Tabor and Linda Mugelston as Polly Pry, with Chad Callaghan, Paula Chase, Susan Derry, Kevin Earley, Ali Ewoldt, Jeremy Jordan, Kevin Ligon, Omar Lopez-Cepero, Brandi Chavone Massey, Orville Mendoza, Richard Roland, Matthew Shepard, Jennifer Smith and Kevin Worley.

The Molly Brown readings will take place in the Space Theatre Feb. 13 at 3 PM and Feb. 14 at 3 PM.

Four other new plays will be read in the special weekend presented by the Tony Award-winning DCTC: Eventide, When Tang Met Laika, Take Me to the River and Flooded. The Denver Center Theatre Company announced casting for all five of the 2009 Colorado New Play Summit readings. The actors are from Denver, New York City and across the country. The Summit lures theatre enthusiasts and industry professionals.

The 2009 Colorado New Play Summit lineup and casting includes:

  • Eventide, a companion piece to last year's Plainsong, written by Eric Schmiedl (Plainsong) and based on the novel by Kent Haruf. The commission of the Denver Center Theatre Company will include Philip Pleasants, Mike Hartman, John Hutton and Kathleen McCall reprising their roles from DCTC's 2008 production of Plainsong. The cast also includes Reema Zaman, Drew Cortese, Stephen Weitz, Leslie O'Carroll, Ashlee Baldwin, Jack Lilley, Jenna Panther, David Ivers, Jeanne Paulsen, Tom Walsh, Christy Overndorf, Rebecca Martin, Charlotte Booker, Douglas Bynum, Geoffrey Kent, Robert Jason Jackson and Kelli Crump. Kent Thompson directs. Readings will take place in the Jones Theatre Feb. 13 at 11 AM and Feb. 14 at 10 AM.
  • When Tang Met Laika, "a play highlighting the American and Russian collaboration in building the International Space Station," to feature Ian Merrill Peakes, Nisi Sturgis, Megan Byrne, Randy Moore, Matt Mueller, Sean Lyons, Sean Arbuckle and Dawn Scott. Written by Rogelio Martinez, the play was commissioned by the Denver Center Theatre Company and Magic Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation New Science & Technology Plays Initiative. Terry Nolen directs. The reading will be in the Ricketson Theatre Feb. 13 at 3 PM and Feb. 14 at 10 AM.
  • Constance Congdon's Take Me to the River, "a farm drama taking place in the American great plains which highlights the political and environmental implications of water rights," will feature Sam Gregory, Scott MacLean, Piter Marek, David Manis, Marcus Waterman, Laith Nakli, Nasser Faris, Kurt Rhoads, Shauna Miles, Gabriella Cavallero, Jeanine Serralles, Kathy Brady, Rachel Fowler, Kelly McAndrew, Christopher Mazza and Joseph Yeargin, Feb. 13 at 11 AM and Feb. 14 at 3 PM in the Ricketson Theatre. Lisa Peterson directs. Commissioned by the Denver Center Theatre Company and Magic Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation New Science & Technology Plays Initiative.
  • Julie Marie Myatt's Flooded "a mythic drama about a star TV meteorologist who becomes engulfed in extreme climate events," will include Max Schwartz, David Furr, Romi Dias, Larry Bull, Tom Coiner, Angela Paton and John DiAntonio. The commission of the Denver Center Theatre Company will be directed by Laurie Woolery, and takes place in the Jones Theatre Feb. 13 and Feb. 14 at 7:30 PM. The 2009 Colorado New Play Summit will also include a panel of four leaders from some of the country’s leading new play development centers discussing "What's New for New Plays?" Topics will include the future of new play development, the relationship between new play development and production, and trends in contemporary playwriting. The panelists are Todd London of New Dramatists, John Clinton Eisner of the Lark Play Development Center, Polly Carl of the Playwrights' Center and Janice Paran of the Sundance Institute Theatre Program. Denver Center artistic director Kent Thompson will moderate.

    For more information on these shows visit www.denvercenter.org.