Breaking: Denver Center Theatre Company’s 2013-14 season an alchemy of the very old and very new

Scott Ferrara as Hamlet in the Denver Center Theatre Company's 2001-02 production.

Scott Ferrara as Hamlet in the Denver Center Theatre Company’s 2001-02 production.

By John Moore
March 6, 2013

The Denver Center Theatre Company has just announced a 10-play season including four world premieres selected from the just-completed 2013 Colorado New Play Summit:

*Karen Zacarías’ adaptation of Helen Thorpe’s book “Just Like Us”
*Catherine Trieschmann’s comedy “The Most Deserving”
*Matthew Lopez’s “The Legend of Georgia McBride”
*Marcus Gardley’s adaptation of Homer’s epic poem, “Black Odyssey”

Also selected were the 1949 Arthur Miller drama “Death of a Salesman,” an adaptation of the Marx Brothers’ “Animal Crackers,” Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and the return of the Christmas classic, “A Christmas Carol” (though it will not be included on the subscription season).

The season is truly a stark divide between the old and new; the familiar and the unfamiliar. Oft-produced titles like William Nicholson’s “Shadowlands,” Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and the perennial “A Christmas Carol” would make a case for conservatism; but everything else on the season argues against that. “Animal Crackers” is at once a little of both.

The latest lineup makes plain that the Denver Center Theatre Company has little interest anymore in bringing to Denver what’s new from New York. The season again cedes the most-talked about plays from Broadway to companies like Curious and TheatreWorks, as it goes about cementing its reputation as a company that produces its own new work.

“We had such compelling and imaginative writing at this year’s Colorado New Play Summit that could not be overlooked,” artistic director Kent Thompson said in a statement. “Our selections this year are wide-ranging and diverse, and I think will bring excitement to our patrons’ experience at the theater.”

The DCTC last staged “Hamlet” in the 2001-02 season.

It’ll be interesting to see what Denver native Steven Dietz’s “Jackie & Me” turns out to be all about, given that he also wrote the oft-produced play for teens, “Honus & Me.” By the season description, it sounds like “Jackie & Me” is pretty much the same play (or perhaps an updated version of it), only the baseball card that prompts the story now is that of Jackie Robinson rather than Honus Wagner. We shall see.

The season at a glance:
Descriptions provided by the Denver Center:

“Death of a Salesman”
By Arthur Miller
Sept 26-Oct 20, 2013
Space Theatre
Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer- and Tony-winning drama Death of a Salesman tells the story of Willy Loman, a downsized salesman whose dreams of greatness for himself and his sons go unrealized. An authentic and heartbreaking portrayal of the American dream lost, this play is woven into the fabric of our country’s consciousness.

“Just Like Us”
By Karen Zacarías, based on the book by Helen Thorpe
Oct 10-Nov 3
Stage Theatre
Based on Helen Thorpe’s bestselling book, this documentary-style play follows four Latina girls in Denver — two of whom are documented and two who are not — through young adulthood. Their close-knit friendships begin to unravel when immigration status dictates the girls’ opportunities, or lack thereof. When a political firestorm arises, each girl’s legal status becomes increasingly desperate. “Just Like Us” poses difficult, yet essential questions such as what makes an American?

“The Most Deserving”
A Denver Center commission
By Catherine Trieschmann
Oct. 17-Nov. 17
Ricketson Theatre
Tasked with awarding $20,000 to a deserving and needy local artist who “demonstrates an under-represented American voice,” a small town arts council in Ellis County, Kansas, comically erupts into chaos. Should the award go to a high school teacher/painter 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.

“Jackie & Me*
By Steven Dietz
Based on the book by Dan Gutman
Nov 21-Dec 22
Space Theatre
A rare baseball card is young Joey Stoshack’s ticket back in time, where he meets Jackie Robinson on the very day he is signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers. Thrust into a racial pressure-cooker, Joey learns about courage and grace from one of America’s legends. Exciting and emotional, Jackie & Me, based on the popular youth novel, will warm hearts of all ages and emphasizes the importance of role models for adolescents.

“A Christmas Carol”
By Charles Dickens
Adapted by Richard Hellesen
Music by David de Berry
Dec. 5-29, 2013
Stage Theatre
Denver’s holiday tradition returns. Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, this joyous and opulent musical adaptation traces Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol illuminates the meaning of the holiday season and is a beloved tradition for many families. This is an added attraction, not part of the subscription season.

“The Legend of Georgia McBride”
By Matthew Lopez
Jan. 16-Feb. 23
Ricketson Theatre
When a struggling Florida dive-bar changes its image, Casey, the headlining Elvis impersonator, finds himself unemployed, broke and with a baby on the way. When the bar owner brings in a B-level drag show to replace his act, Casey finds that he has a lot to learn about show business — and himself. From one of the most-produced playwrights of the year, The Legend of Georgia McBride is a joyous and bawdy comedy with a great big heart and music to spare.

“Black Odyssey”
A Denver Center commission
By Marcus Gardley
Jan. 23-Feb. 16
Space Theatre
Playwright Marcus Gardley magically re-casts Homer’s Odysseus as a black soldier returning home from a harrowing tour in the Gulf War. The great Greek archetypes reverberate with new world African-American culture as Gardley fuses modern reality with ancient myth in this gripping new play.

By William Shakespeare
Jan. 30-Feb. 23
Stage Theatre
Hamlet descends into mental unrest as the desire to avenge his father’s suspicious death causes him to contemplate action, inaction and the meaning of life itself. Proclaimed the “greatest play in the English language,” William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a symphony of revenge, deceit and moral corruption.

By William Nicholson
March 28-April 27, 2014
Space Theatre
Professor and writer C.S. Lewis led a life of bachelorhood into middle age. It is only when he starts an unlikely friendship with American fan Joy Davidman that his life becomes enriched by romance. When she is diagnosed cancer, Lewis experiences a crisis of faith that betrays his life’s dedication to Christian thought and theology. Shadowlands is a reminder to us all that great loss cannot exist without great love.

“Animal Crackers”
By George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind
Music and Lyrics by Bert Kalmar & Harry Ruby
Adapted by Henry Wishcamper
April 10-May 11
Stage Theatre
This boisterous and knockabout comedy begins when a valuable painting goes missing at a society dinner party and chaos ensues. A Marx Brothers stage classic, Animal Crackers is stocked with physical comedy and one-liners sure to have audiences rolling in the aisles.

Tickets and subscriptions:
New and renewing subscribers may reserve season tickets starting March 18 online at or by calling 303-893-6030 or 303-893-4100. Single ticket on-sale dates will be announced at a later time.

Note: Plans for the new season are subject to change.

Curious Theatre’s new season: Dietz, “Good People” and “Venus in Fur”

"Venus in Fur" on Broadway. Photo by Joan Marcus.

“Venus in Fur” on Broadway. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Steven Dietz

Steven Dietz.


By John Moore
Feb. 21, 2013

Curious Theatre Company’s 16th season will further its “always new to Denver” mantra to include the premiere of a “new to everyone” original work by Denver native Steven Dietz.

The most recognized titles on the new season announced today are two recent Tony-nominated best plays — “Venus in Fur,” David Ives’ story of a beleaguered playwright who is desperate to find an actress to play the female lead in his adaptation of the classic sadomasochistic tale of the same name; and “Good People,” David Lindsay-Abaire’s tale of a down-on-her-luck Boston “Southie” who thinks an old fling might be her ticket to a fresh new start.

But Curious is also understandably jazzed about presenting the “rolling world premiere” of Dietz’s “Rancho Mirage.” It’s about six longtime friends gathering for one final dinner party.

Curious is part of the National New Play Network, an alliance of 26 professional nonprofit theaters that champion the development, production and continued life of new plays. Selected works are guaranteed three separate stagings by member companies throughout the nation. Curious gets the fourth and final shots at “Rancho Mirage,” so what it presents will be the one that’s most closely released to the world for future productions.

The season also includes “After the Revolution” by Amy Herzog, Matthew Lopez’s “The Whipping Man,” “Good People” (Tony Award nominated for Best New Play), and Venus in Fur (Tony Award nominated for Best Play).

Curious Theatre’s 2013-14 season
(All content below provided by Curious Theatre press release)

By Amy Herzog
Sept. 7-Oct. 19, 2013
The passionate, brilliant Emma Joseph proudly carries the torch of her family’s long-held Marxist traditions by devoting her life to the memory of her legendary blacklisted grandfather. When a stunning revelation uncovers a dark secret, each member of the family must reconcile everything they thought they stood for with the shadowy truth of history.

By Steven Dietz
Nov. 2-Dec. 7, 2013
When six longtime friends gather for a one final dinner party, the evening unfolds with comic surprises, alarming secrets and shocking bombshells that none of them will soon forget. From the playwright of “Yankee Tavern.” Dietz’s dark comedy asks what remains between us when our youth, our dreams and our last bottle of wine is gone?

By Matthew Lopez
Jan. 11-Feb. 15, 2014
In the aftermath of the Civil War, a Jewish Confederate soldier returns home to discover his two former slaves living in the ruins of his family’s once grand plantation. Bound together by faith, they reunite to celebrate Passover and confront their past, present and future. “The Whipping Man” is a hauntingly powerful drama about new-found freedom and the painful legacy of slavery.

By David Lindsay-Abaire
Directed Christy Montour-Larson
March 8-April 19, 2014
In South Boston, good people lean on their neighbors in tough times, nights are spent playing Bingo at the local church, and they live from paycheck to paycheck. Falling on hard times, Margie looks up a former boyfriend hoping to turn her luck – and her life – around. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire explores how a twist of fate can change your life and whether you can ever escape your circumstances without abandoning your roots in this humor-filled story about society and class.

By David Ives
Directed by Chip Walton
May 3-June 14, 2014
In this darkly seductive tale, a sexy and mysterious actress shows up hours late for her audition, and knows that she may have blown her chances at the role of a lifetime. But she slowly turns the tables into an erotic and electrifying game of cat and mouse that changes all the rules. Nominated for the 2012 Tony Award for best play, award-winning playwright David Ives’ new play blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, seduction and power, and love and sex.

Season subscriptions  range from $75-$210 and go on sale starting March 1, 2013, at All performances are held at 1080 Acoma St., Denver, 80204.

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Colorado New Play Summit taps Laura Eason, Helen Thorpe, Karen Zacarías and more

Karen Zacarías’ “Mariela in the Desert” was performed by the Denver Center Theatre Company in 2010. Photo by Terry Shapiro.

By John Moore

Nov. 19, 2012

The lineup for the Denver Center Theatre Company’s 8th Annual Colorado New Play Summit in February will include the newest work by rising playwriting star Laura Eason, a graduate of Cherry Creek High School, and a collaboration between former Colorado First Lady Helen Thorpe and Karen Zacarías.

Eason’s adaptation of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” was staged by the DCTC last November, and in March was performed at New York’s New Victory Theatre. Her breakthrough play, “Sex With Strangers,” just bowed in Australia. The DCTC presented Zacarías’ “Mariela in the Desert” in 2010.

According to the DCTC’s announcement, the New Play Summit will feature topics ranging from immigration assimilation to a modern take on Homer’s “The Odyssey,” and a bawdy comedy about a man dragged into a drag act. The selections:

  • “The Most Deserving,” by Catherine Trieschmann (author of the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s just-closed “How the World Began”)
  • “The Legend of Georgia McBride” by Matthew Lopez
  • “The Vast In-Between” by  Laura Eason
  • Karen Zacarías “Just Like Us” (based on the best-seller by  Thorpe)
  • “Black Odyssey,” by Marcus Gardle

Laura Eason graduated from Cherry Creek High School.

The New Play Summit will take place Feb. 8-10, 2013. All plays above will get professional staged readings, while two selections from last year’s fest: “Ed, Downloaded,” and “Grace, Or the Art of Climbing,” will be fully staged.

Members of the public are invited to join with artistic directors, literary managers, dramaturgs, directors, and media representatives, who travel from across the country to attend what under artistic director Kent Thompson and director of new-play development Bruce K. Sevy has come to be regarded as one the nation’s leading new-play festivals.

Full Summit passes are available for purchase now. Tickets to individual readings will be available in early January. Visit  or call 303-893-6030.

Here are unedited excerpts from the company announcement:

Staged reading


By Catherine Trieschmann

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.

Over the past decade, Catherine Trieschmann has steadily risen through the ranks of today’s playwrights, seeing her work come to life on stages across the country and overseas in London and Sydney. Her plays include The Bridegroom of Blowing Rock, Crooked, How the World Began, and Hot Georgia Sunday. She has received the Weissberger Award, the Otis Guerney New Voices Playwriting Award from the Inge Theatre Festival, and the Edgerton New Play Award. Trieschmann also wrote the screen play for the film Angels Crest, which premiered at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival before being released by Magnolia Pictures. Originally from Athens, Georgia, Trieschmann now resides in Hays, Kansas, a small town that has heavily influenced her latest works, How the World Began and The Most Deserving.


Staged reading


By Matthew Lopez

He’s young, he’s broke, his landlord’s knocking at the door, and he’s just found out his wife is going to have a baby. To make matters even more desperate, Casey is fired from his gig as an Elvis impersonator in a run-down, small town Florida bar. When the bar owner brings in a B-level drag show to replace his act, Casey finds that he has a whole lot to learn about show business―and himself. From one of the most-produced playwrights of the year, The Legend of Georgia McBride is a joyous, bawdy comedy with a ton of music and a great big heart.

Matthew Lopez is one of the brightest rising stars in the playwriting community today. Lopez’s debut production, The Whipping Man, premiered Off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club in 2011, and earned the playwright the John Gassner Playwriting Award from the Outer Critics Circle. Prior to New York, the play was presented at Luna Stage, Penumbra Theatre Company, Barrington Stage Company, and the Old Globe in San Diego, where he is currently Artist-in-Residence. It has become one of the more regularly produced new American plays with productions scheduled at over a dozen theatres across the country in 2012. His play Somewhere received its world premiere last autumn at the Old Globe, directed by Giovanna Sardelli, and will be presented at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, CA in 2013 with Ms. Sardelli directing again.  In addition to his residency at the Globe, Lopez is commissioned by Roundabout Theatre Company, is a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect, and is a recent member of the Ars Nova Play Group.

Staged reading


By Laura Eason

Cate becomes obsessed with the man down the street who is exposed for having maintained two families in two different cities for years.  Then her own marriage becomes strained when her unemployed husband refuses to compromise in his job search, and she finds herself being drawn into her own possible double life.  A candid look at relationships and marriage in today’s troubled economy.

Laura Eason has been nominated for seven Chicago Awards, winning two for Best New Work (In the Eye of the Beholder) and Best Adaptation (The Old Curiosity Shop). Her large collection of original works and adaptations has been workshopped and produced around the U.S. and her 2011 production Sex with Strangers made its way to Australia’s Sydney Theatre Company. Eason also served as the Artistic Director of the 2011 Regional Tony Award-winning Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago for six years.

The Vast In-Between was workshopped at the Perry-Mansfield New Works Festival  in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It is a Denver Center commission.


Staged reading


Based on the book by Helen Thorpe

Adapted by Karen Zacarías

Based on Helen Thorpe’s bestselling book, Karen Zacarías’ play follows four Latina girls in Denver, two who are documented and two who are not, as they complete their final year of high school, then move through college and into the world. Their close-knit friendships begin to unravel as opportunities open or close for each girl according to her immigration status. When a political firestorm arises in the wake of the shooting of a policeman, their situations are thrown into even bolder relief. Just Like Us grapples with some essential questions: Who is an American? Who gets to live in America? What happens when we don’t agree?

Karen Zacarías’ plays have been produced in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean. Her awards include the 2010 Steinberg Citation for Best New Play (Legacy of Light), the National Francesca Primus Prize (Mariela in the Desert), the New Voices Award, the National Latino Play Award, the ATT/TCG First Stages Award, and Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play (The Sins of Sor Juana). She has been  commissioned by The Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, The Goodman Theatre, The Denver Center, Alliance Theatre, Round House Theatre, Imagination Stage, Berkshire Theatre Festival, South Coast Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, The Arden, Cleveland Playhouse, San Jose Rep, and others. Zacarías is founder of the award-winning arts program Young Playwrights’ Theater which has served over 75,000 children.

Helen Thorpe was born in London and grew up in Medford, New Jersey. Her journalism has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, New York Magazine, and The Texas Observer. Thorpe has worked for Texas Monthly, The New York Observer, and The New Yorker, where she wrote “Talk of the Town” stories. She is the former First Lady of Colorado.  Just Like Us is her first book.

Just Like Us was recently workshopped by DCTC in Los Angeles. It is a Denver Center commission.

Staged reading


By Marcus Gardley

Playwright Marcus Gardley magically re-casts Homer’s Odysseus as a Black soldier returning home from a harrowing tour in the Gulf War.  The great Greek archetypes reverberate with new world African-American culture as Gardley fuses modern reality with ancient myth in this gripping new play.

Marcus Gardley’s plays have been produced throughout the U.S. His drama Every Tongue Confess premiered at Arena Stage in Washington D.C. in 2010, and was nominated for the Steinberg New Play Award, the Charles MacArthur Award, and received the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award. His musical On the Levee premiered in 2010 at LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater in New York and was nominated for 11 Audelco Awards, including Outstanding Playwright. He is the recipient of a Helen Merrill Award, a Kesselring Honor, the Gerbode Emerging Playwright Award, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Award, the Eugene O’Neill Memorial Scholarship, the ASCAP Cole Porter Award, and the 2011 PEN/Laura Pels award for Mid-Career Playwright.

Black Odyssey is a Denver Center commission.

World Premiere – Mainstage production


by Lauren Feldman

Directed by Mike Donahue

In this captivating tale of a reluctant young athlete, rock climbing is both metaphor and action.  Emm struggles with doubt, depression, and her own demons as she trains mind, body, and spirit for a world climbing competition.

Lauren Feldman’s plays have been produced throughout the U.S. and at the Royal Court Theatre in London. She was one of two Americans in the Royal Court Theatre’s EXPOSURE 2000: “Crossing the Borders” project, and one of four Americans in World Interplay 2004, the international festival of young playwrights held in Australia every other year. A two-time Downstage Miami Playwriting Fellow, she has worked with Arthur Kopit and Tina Howe. Grace, or The Art of Climbing was workshopped at the 2012 Colorado New Play Summit.

World Premiere – Mainstage production


by Michael Mitnick

Directed by Sam Buntrock

Videography by Charlie I. Miller

This intriguing new comedic drama, set sometime in the not too distant future, tells the story of Ed, who is dying.  Given a chance to be immortal, Ed selects the trendy procedure of having his brain downloaded. He’s allowed ten memories to accompany him into eternity. But when his girlfriend discovers that Ed has chosen moments spent with another woman, she decides to intervene.

This arresting new work will be directed by Sam Buntrock who directed the first West End revival of the musical Sunday in the Park with George. This transfer from London’s Menier Chocolate Factory studio theatre went on to take Broadway by storm with its highly innovative use of integrative onstage video projections, winning the 32-year-old director stellar reviews in both the UK and America, and Olivier, Tony, and Drama Desk award nominations. Playwright Michael Mitnick has had his works developed around the country at theatres including Manhattan Theatre Club, Second Stage, Ars Nova, McCarter Theatre Center, TheatreWorks, and The Kennedy Center.  Current projects include “Animal House: The Musical,” being developed by Universal Pictures Stage Productions, featuring a score by the band Barenaked Ladies and a libretto by Michael Mitnick. The production will be directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, a Tony Award-winner for “The Book of Mormon.” He is also at work on a colossal production of “King Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World,” set to open in Melbourne next year, featuring music by Elbow‘s Guy Garvey, Massive Attack‘s Robert Del Naja, the Avalanches, and Sarah McLachlan. This big-budget production, directed by Daniel Kramer and featuring a one-ton animatronic gorilla, will include a soundtrack arranged by Marius de Vries, who has produced records for Rufus Wainwright and Elbow, and who directed the music for Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge.

Ed, Downloaded, equal parts live action and feature film, was commissioned by the Denver Center Theatre Company and workshopped at the 2012 Colorado New Play Summit.