Denver Center Theatre Company will be on a "Rocky Mountain High" in its 2001-2002 season, when the music and life of the late John Denver are celebrated in a world premiere musical, Almost Heaven: Songs and Stories of John Denver.
DCTC, the Tony Award-honored Colorado theatre, announced its upcoming 23rd season April 11, the morning after a wet 12 inch spring snowfall. The regional premiere of the musical version of Mark Harelik's The Immigrant (which had its world premiere in a limited Off-Broadway engagement in 2000) is also on the 2001-2002 slate, as is the world premiere of Jeffrey Hatcher's new work, Pierre, adapted from a Melville novel whose subjects included incest and "moral relativism." A third world premiere culled from the June 2001 TheaterFest is expected to be added to the season.
Produced in association with Harold Thau, Almost Heaven is written, adapted and directed by Peter Glazer, with songs by longtime Colorado resident John Denver and others, with orchestrations, vocal arrangements and musical direction by Jeff Waxman and with musical consultation by Milt Okun.
Singer-songwriter Denver, who sang sweetly of nature, simplicity, the country and love, became disillusioned with the record industry in his later career and had expressed his sadness that his hit songs — and his new work — failed to get airplay in the 1980s and 1990s. His life story is told through his songs in the new musical. Denver died when a plane he was piloting crashed into the ocean. Almost Heaven premieres in DCTC's The Stage Theatre March 21-April 27, 2002.
The DCTC season includes a new Nagle Jackson translation of Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac, Sept. 27 Nov. 3 in The Stage Theatre; Martin McDonagh's A Skull in Connemara, at The Space Theatre, Oct. 4-Nov. 17; a prize-winning play from the current New York season, directed by Bruce K. Sevy, follows in The Ricketson Theatre Oct. 17 Dec. 8; A Christmas Carol at The Stage Theatre, Nov. 23-Dec. 23; Rebecca Gilman's Spinning Into Butter at The Ricketson Theatre, directed by DCTC artistic director Donovan Marley, Jan. 9-March 2, 2002; the Steven M. Alper-Sarah Knapp musical, The Immigrant, with book by Mark Harelik, based on his 1985 DCTC play and directed by the play's original director, Randal Myler, at The Stage Theatre, Jan. 17-Feb. 23, 2002; Hamlet, directed by Anthony Powell, at The Space Theatre, Jan. 24-March 9, 2002; August Wilson's Jitney, directed by Israel Hicks, at The Space Theatre, March 28-May 11, 2002; a world premiere play chosen from TheaterFest 2001, plays The Ricketson Theatre, April 3-May 25, 2002; and Hatcher's Pierre, seen in TheaterFest 2000, directed by Bruce K. Sevy, May 9-June 8, 2002 at The Stage Theatre. For season ticket information, call (303) 893-4100 or (800) 641-1222, or visit www.denvercenter.org.
— By Kenneth Jones