“Grace, or the Art of Climbing” made the leap from the 2012 Colorado New Play Summit to its full world premiere presentation now being staged by the Denver Center Theatre Company. Above are Karen Pittman and Teresa Avia Lim at the 2012 Summit.
By John Moore
Feb. 5, 2013
The Denver Center Theatre Company’s eighth annual Colorado New Play Summit is taking shape for this weekend (Feb. 8-10). The company will present five staged readings, a few of which will surely end up being chosen for full productions during the company’s 2013-14 season.
Ryan Wuestewald recently starred in a Catherine Trieschmann drama in Boulder, but at the Summit he will appear in an adaptation of Helen Thorpe’s “Just Like Us.”
With dozens of cast and crew needed to pull off the Summit, company stages will be peppered with Broadway and film veterans (such as André De Shields); Denver Center company members past and present; as well as accomplished local actors who don’t otherwise get a chance to perform at the Denver Center. Familiar names to local theatergoers will include Kim Staunton, Jeanne Paulsen, Gabriella Cavallero, David DeSantos (“American Nights”), Kathleen McCall, Mercedes Perez, Laurence Curry, Jada Roberts, Allison Watrous, Brian Shea, Stephen Weitz, Jamie Ann Romero, Diana Dresser, Dena Martinez and Ryan Wuestewald, who will also star in the Catamounts’ upcoming “Jon.”
Selected playwrights include Cherry Creek High grad Laura Eason and Karen Zacarías, whose adaptation of former Colorado First Lady Helen Thorpe’s book, “Just Like Us” follows four Latina girls in Denver, two of whom are documented and two of whom are not, as they complete their final year of high school, then move through college and into the world. Thorpe is depicted in the play adaptation, played by McCall. Richard Azurdia plays controversial former Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo.
Here’s who’s doing what, with play summaries provided by the Denver Center. Note: All casting is subject to change:
THE MOST DESERVING
Written by Catherine Trieschmann (“How the World Began”)
Directed by Shelley Butler
Dramaturg: Tom Bryant
Tasked with awarding $20,000 to a deserving and needy local artist who “demonstrates an underrepresented American voice,” a small town arts council in Ellis County, Kansas, comically erupts into chaos. Should the award go to a high school teacher/photographer of modest talent or to the self-taught African-American artist who creates controversial religious figures out of trash? “The Most Deserving” is a satirical, insightful look at how the arts collide with politics, self-interest, taste, relationships, egos, and gossip, written by Catherine Trieschmann, winner of the Weissberger Award, the Otis Guerney New Voices Playwriting Award from the Inge Theatre Festival, and the Edgerton New Play Award.
Stephen Caffrey: Ted (“Longtime Companion” and “The Babe”)
Hawthorne James: Everett Whiteside (“Speed,” “The Color Purple,” Armistad”)
Judith Hawking: Jolene
Marissa Lichwick: Liz
Jeanne Paulsen: Edie
John G. Preston: Dwayne
Adrian Egolf: Stage Directions
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