Who’s who at the 2013 Colorado New Play Summit

"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.

“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."

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.

Cast:
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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Neck injury ends Thompson’s son’s football career at Drake

From left, Alex Thompson, then 11, with Kathleen McCall and Kent Thompson as they prepared to leave Birmingham, Ala., and move to Denver in 2005. Photo by Phil Scarsbrook, Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

 

By John Moore

Sept. 21, 2012

Except for perhaps opening nights, nothing made Kent Thompson’s face light up like watching his son play football.

Check that: Nothing made Kent Thompson’s face light up like watching his son play football.

The Denver Center Theatre Company artistic director and proud papa loved talking about Alex Thompson’s progress at Cherry Creek High School, and sneaking away on weekends to catch his games. In four years, he never missed one.

Alex was a highly sought recruit, and Thompson chronicled their recruiting adventures on Twitter from Florida to Northwestern to Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where Alex ultimately decided to attend college and play Division I football as a linebacker.

Thompson’s most recent Tweet remains the one he sent during a recruiting visit to Drake with Alex on Jan. 15, 2011: “Des Moines. Visiting football program at Drake with Alex. Very cold. Good school. Good program.”

Alex Thompson. Photo courtesy Drake University.

Alex suffered a career-ending neck injury during the opening kickoff of the Bulldogs’ game at Indiana State last Saturday (Sept. 15). The 6-foot-1, 230-pound sophomore linebacker lay on the field for more than 10 minutes as medical personnel attended to him. “He lost sort of all feeling,” head coach Chris Creighton told the Des Moines Register. “In his words, he thought he was paralyzed.”

Drake assistant athletic director Ty Patton told the Register’s Tommy Birch that Thompson was diagnosed with a disk slide under his C3 vertebra, effectively ending his football career. On Monday, the Register reported, Thompson returned to practice standing, wearing a neck brace, and became emotional while  addressing coaches and teammates before practice.

Kent Thompson opened his seventh season as DCTC artistic director last night (Sept. 20) with August Wilson’s “Fences.” Productions of “The Three Musketeers” and “The Giver” open in the next two weeks.

Kent Thompson, son of a Baptist minister, lost his first wife, Carol, in 1997, after a five-year battle with cancer. The couple adopted Alex from a Korean woman in 1993, when Carol was in remission. “There is always something around the corner that seems to be just kind of a miracle,” Thompson said of Alex in a 2005 interview.

Since his son was 4, Kent Thompson has raised Alex  with his second wife, DCTC actress Kathleen McCall.

McCall hails from a line of Colorado high-school football legends. Her father, Don McCall, was a coach for 34 years at Douglas County High School. Her brother, Mick McCall, is the offensive coordinator at Northwestern; and her other brother, Randy McCall, is an NCAA basketball referee and former athletic director at Cherry Creek High School.

At Cherry Creek High School, Alex received 34 “Bruin Awards” for Performance Recognition during games.

“I’m outgoing, competitive, pretty passionate person and a leader,” Alex Thompson told www.nationalunderclassmen.com in 2010. He was also very active in the community. He volunteered with the Denver Rescue Mission and The Crossing (a halfway house for homeless families) and worked to make Cherry Creek High School a hate-free zone.

“We work to make our school a no-hate school; no hate, no discrimination. I’m a facilitator, teaching and sharing leadership skills and activities on how to get to know each other,” he told the web site.  “People are scared of things that are not like them and things they don’t understand.”

For as important as football is to Alex Thompson, he let the web site know his priorities were clear.

“First  is education,” said Thompson, who aspires to be a writer.  “I plan to use football to get the best education I can. Second is football. Third is the environment.”

Kent Thompson talked about life as a football father with The Denver Post’s Bill Husted in 2009.