Denver Play Summit Boasts Four Play Readings and Molly Brown Musical Workshop

News   Denver Play Summit Boasts Four Play Readings and Molly Brown Musical Workshop
The Denver Center Theatre Company will welcome 300 theatre professionals and journalists to its fourth annual Colorado New Play Summit Feb. 12-14, offering two fully produced world- premiere productions and readings of plays and a musical.
Kerry O
Kerry O Photo by Seth Holt

Summit attendees will experience the world-premiere productions of 2009 Blackburn Prize finalist Michele Lowe's Inana, "a poignant love story about an Iraqi museum curator's desperate attempt to save an ancient and treasured statue before the U.S. invasion of his country," and Dusty and the Big Bad World, Cusi Cram's "wildly humorous story about bigotry and the censorship of Dusty, a public television children's series about a dust ball." (The Summit coincides with the DCTC subscription-season run of Inana and Dusty.)

Dick Scanlan (the librettist-lyricist of Thoroughly Modern Millie) reworked The Unsinkable Molly Brown, "rediscovering Molly Brown's colorful Gold Rush past in a sparkling new adaptation of Meredith Willson's musical set in Colorado." Kathleen Marshall directs, with Broadway's Kerry O'Malley as Molly and Marc Kudisch as JJ Brown.

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 1960 musical is being adapted by Scanlan from Richard Morris' original libretto and will feature 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. The Molly Brown readings will take place in the Space Theatre Feb. 13 at 3 PM and Feb. 14 at 3 PM.

In addition to the two staged world premieres and Molly Brown, four playwrights will hear readings of their new works in development:

  • 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. Weekend attendees will include artistic directors, literary managers, agents, members of the press, actors, dramaturgs and directors from around the U.S.

    The 2009 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.


    Previous New Play Summit titles include Theresa Rebeck's Our House, to be produced this season at Playwrights Horizons; and Octavio Solis' critically-acclaimed Lydia, which will be produced four times this season (Yale Repertory Theatre, Mark Taper Forum/Center Theatre Group, Marin Theatre Company and Oregons Miracle Theatre Group. Theatre Communications Group's American Theatre magazine recently published the Lydia script in the December issue.

    For more information visit


    The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust supports new American plays at the Denver Center Theatre Company.

    The Colorado New Play Summit workshop of The Unsinkable Molly Brown has been made possible by the support of Joy Burns, Leo & Susan Kiely and Daniel L. Ritchie.

    Producing Partners for the Colorado New Play Summit are Daniel L. Ritchie and Leo & Susan Kiely.

    Inana is the recipient of a major Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award. Producing Partner for Inana is Carol E. Wolf. Inana is sponsored by The Women's Voices Fund.

    Producing Partners for Dusty and the Big Bad World are Terry & Noel Hefty and Jim Steinberg & Karolynn Lestrud.

    Dusty and the Big Bad World is sponsored by The Women’s Voices Fund.

  • Brandi Chavone Massey, Richard Roland, Kerry O
    Brandi Chavone Massey, Richard Roland, Kerry O Photo by Seth Holt
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