2019 Summit casting 800

Colorado New Play Summit will bring mix of new and familiar faces to Denver

2019 Summit casting 800

Just a few of the familiar Denver Center faces who will be appearing in the DCPA’s 2019 Colorado New Play Summit, top row from left: Bianca Laverne Jones (“Last Night and the Night Before”), Leslie Alexander (“A Christmas Carol”) and Rodney Lizcano (“The Constant Wife”); middle row: Kurt Hellerich (“Lord of the Flies”); Sheryl McCallum (“Xanadu”) and Erin Cherry (“Last Night and the Night Before”); bottom row: Kristina Fountaine (“Corduroy”), Diana Dresser (“Anna Karenina”) and Kate Gleason (“Anna Karenina”).

One of the nation’s largest new-play festivals will employ more than 70 actors, directors, playwrights, musicians and crew

The DCPA Theatre Company has announced casting for the first Colorado New Play Summit under the leadership of Artistic Director Chris Coleman, who will bring familiar and new names to Denver and the Rocky Mountain region’s largest new-play festival.

The 14th annual festival, which will take place over two weekends February 16-17 and 22-24, will feature previously announced readings of new plays by Beaufield Berry, Isaac Gomez, Bonnie Metzgar and Tony Meneses; and a special concert reading of a new musical by Neyla Pekarek and Karen Hartman. Festival visitors also will attend fully staged word-premiere productions by Donnetta Lavinia Grays (Last Night and the Night Before) and Itamar Moses (The Whistleblower).

“Every play we experience was new at one point,” said Coleman. “I don’t know if Shakespeare had the opportunity to try Hamlet out before the masses heard it for the first time, but I suspect he’d have jumped at the chance to workshop the play for a full two weeks.”

The Summit will employ more than 70 playwrights, actors, directors, stage managers, musicians and crew. Casting, announced today, will feature many actors performing in current or recent Denver Center productions ranging from Anna Karenina to Last Night and the Night Before to American Mariachi to Xanadu to Lord of the Flies to Oklahoma! to A Christmas Carol to Corduroy to Bite-Size. In addition, more than two dozen actors who will be appearing here for the first time.

Meneses, a frequent Summit visitor but first-time featured playwright, is commissioned by the DCPA Theatre Company, which means he has been retained by the company to write a new play for the Denver Center’s right of first refusal.

Metzgar, a founding director of The Public Theatre’s renowned Joe’s Pub, is well-known to Colorado theatre audiences for her work as the former Associate Artistic Director at Curious Theatre, where she directed the world premiere of The War Anthology in 2006, a compendium of 10 short plays about war that included three Pulitzer Prize-winning writers. It was during that production in Denver she got the inspiration to turn Suzan-Lori Parks’ 365 Days/365 Plays into the longest ongoing international theatre movement in history. Metzgar, a longtime force in the Chicago theatre scene, also taught at the University of Colorado at Denver and was named The Denver Post’s Colorado Theatre Person of the Year for 2006. Pulitzer winner Paula Vogel (How I Learned to Drive) once said of Metzgar: “I really do mean it when I say I would jump off a cliff if she told me to.”

Pekarek, a former member of the popular Colorado-based band The Lumineers, was a featured performer at Off-Center’s Mixed Taste series last summer, where Coleman announced he was commissioning Pekarek and Hartman to further develop Rattlesnake Kate. It’s the story of Kate Slaughterback, a Greeley farmer who reportedly fought off 140 rattlesnakes to save her 3-year-old son in 1925. For the concert reading, Pekarek will be playing cello and playing a character called “The Lady,” while Kate will be played at three ages by three actors including DCPA Theatre Company veteran Leslie Alexander.

Praised as “a must-see stop for new-play development” by American Theatre magazine, the Colorado New Play Summit is the DCPA’s signature festival dedicated to supporting playwrights and developing new work. Participating playwrights are given two weeks with professional directors, actors, and dramaturgs to workshop new plays. Industry professionals and the public are invited to experience them as non-staged readings.

Read more from 2004: Bonnie Metzgar: A master comes to Denver

“Each year, the Colorado New Play Summit allows us to dive deep into the developmental process of new work as we collaborate with some of the country’s most exciting writers and keep our eyes and ears on the future,” Coleman said. “I can’t wait to celebrate each of their voices with the Denver community and the industry at large.”

Since its founding in 2006, the Colorado New Play Summit has introduced 57 new plays, over half of which returned to the stage as full Theatre Company productions. Recent Summit world premieres include Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will, Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap, Tanya Saracho’s FADE, Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride, Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale, Theresa Rebeck’s The Nest, Karen Zacarias’s Just Like Us, and Dick Scanlan’s reimagined version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

2019 Featured Playwrights CNPS

The writers, clockwise from top left: Beaufield Berry, Isaac Gomez, Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Tony Meneses, Neyla Pekarek, Karen Hartman, Itamar Moses and Bonnie Metzgar.


(All casting by Grady Soapes, CSA)

In The Upper Room
In The Jones Theatre

  • By Beaufield Berry
  • Directed by Gregg T. Daniel
  • Dramaturgy by Jacqueline E. Lawton

Meet the Berrys, a multi-generational black family living under one roof in the 1970s. Their lives orbit around Rose, the controlling matriarch who has indoctrinated fear into every member of the house while hiding dark secrets from her mysterious past. With the exception of her mild-mannered husband, Rose’s relatives try to assert themselves and break away from the core of chaos she has created. Colorism, loyalty, and twisted family dynamics are all at play in this dramatic dark comedy about the ties that bind and break us, from playwright, novelist, and activist Beaufield Berry.

Cast and crew:

  • Rose: Marjorie Johnson
  • Eddie: Kim Estes
  • Janet: Erin Cherry
  • John: Donathan Walters
  • Josephine: Nadia Ra’Shaun Williams
  • Yvette: Ambyr Michelle McWilliams
  • Jackie: Stephanie Berry
  • Delores: Perri Gaffney
  • Stage Directions: Ilasiea Gray
  • Stage Manager: Randall K. Lum
  • Stage Management Apprentice: Emry Rockenfield

Wally World
In The Ricketson Theatre

  • By Isaac Gomez
  • Directed by Meredith McDonough
  • Dramaturgy by Doug Langworthy

It’s Christmas Eve and a group of Wally World employees are about to lose it. On the one day of the year the mega-department superstore is supposed to close its doors, secrets come to life that may destroy more than their holiday cheer. Their manager Andy is doing everything in her power to keep her store in line and her employees in check. But can hard truths from her past ruin everything she’s ever worked for? Inspired by his own mother’s experience and infused with his signature “poignant social commentary” (Chicago Reader), Isaac Gomez’s Wally World is a hysterical, touching examination of finding magic in the mundane as eleven employees do everything they can to find purpose in a place that has never seen purpose in them.

Cast and crew:

  • Andy: Evelina Fernandez
  • Amy: Diana Dresser
  • Mark: Leigh Miller
  • Estelle: Sheryl McCallum
  • Ariadna: Kristina Fountaine
  • Jax: Kevin Curtis
  • Janie: Karen Rodriguez
  • Miguel: Rodney Lizcano
  • Dan: Dan Lin
  • Karla: Heather Velazquez
  • Courtney: Bianca Laverne Jones
  • Stage Directions: Rakeem Lawrence
  • Stage Manager: Kurt Van Raden
  • Stage Management Apprentice: Jessica Steffen-Schepers

DCPA Theatre Company Commission
In The Jones Theatre

  • By Tony Meneses
  • Directed by Henry Godinez
  • Dramaturgy by Stephanie Ybarra

In the year 2050, Andres Salazar is running for office. By this time, Latinos have become the majority, but race issues are nowhere near resolved. In this tricky political environment, he must decide whether identifying himself as a Hispanic American will help or hinder him on Election Day. When a mysterious stranger appears at his house, his family rallies around him to save his imperiled campaign in this insightful drama from rising playwright Tony Meneses, called “a distinctive voice worthy of attention” by the New Jersey Star Ledger.

Cast and crew:

  • Andres Salazar: Lakin Valdez
  • Irene Salazar: Blanca Camacho
  • Jenny Salazar: Mathia Vargas
  • Sebastian Hernandez: Dan Domingues
  • Lydia Aguilar: Liza Fernandez
  • Monty: James Vincent Meredith
  • Oscar: Alec Gallardo
  • Stage Directions: Iliana L. Brown
  • Stage Manager: Corin Ferris
  • Stage Management Apprentice: Jessica Steffen-Schepers

You Lost Me
In The Ricketson Theatre

  • By Bonnie Metzgar
  • Directed by Wendy C. Goldberg (previous Denver Center credits include Third, The Clean House, Living Out, The Sweetest Swing in Baseball and Things You Don’t Say at Dinner)
  • Dramaturgy by Lynde Rosario

In 1824, 17-year-old Ann Harvey saves 160 Irish people from a wreck off of Newfoundland’s Shipwreck Coast, making her an instant hero along this remote and rocky shore. Almost 200 years later, the Harvey family homestead has become the Shipwreck Inn, and present-day proprietress Ann Harvey has just started a new blog for the landmark with the support and ridicule of her teenage nephew, Joe-L. A memory house for all those lost at sea, this Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Festival finalist is a poetic drama that maps the responsibility of the survivors to remember their past and to find their way home.

Cast and crew:

  • Ann Harvey/White Rock Ann: Kate Gleason
  • Edna/Shipwreck Ann/Sid the American: Anastasia Davidson
  • Joe-L: Kurt Hellerich
  • Mary McCauley/Reika the American: Marianna McClellan
  • Alexander McCauley/Pastor Paul/Man from Lloyd’s: Gareth Saxe
  • Stage Directions: Luciann Lajoie
  • Stage Manager: Kristen O’Connor
  • Stage Management Apprentice: Emry Rockenfield


Rattlesnake Kate
DCPA Theatre Company Commission
4 p.m., Saturday, February 24 only, Seawell Ballroom

  • Book by Karen Hartman
  • Music and Lyrics by Neyla Pekarek
  • Directed by Chris Coleman
  • Dramaturgy by Heidi Schmidt
  • Music Direction by Angela Steiner

Around 100 years ago near Greeley, Kate Slaughterback came upon a migration of rattlesnakes while on her horse with her young son. To protect her child and herself, she shot as many snakes as she could with the ammo at hand and decapitated the rest of them with a no-trespassing sign. Neyla Pekarek (cellist and vocalist of folk-rock band The Lumineers) has woven Kate’s biography — including six husbands and one decades-long romance through letters — into an enthralling song cycle. Playwright Karen Hartman joins forces with Pekarek to transform this material into a fully-fleshed musical that delivers Western lore through a modern lens. Join us for this one-night-only event during the Festival Weekend featuring a performance accompanied by a live band.

Cast, musicians and crew:

  • Katherine: Leslie Alexander
  • Ernie: Brian Cronan
  • The Colonel: Matthew Bryan Feld
  • Katie: Sara Masterson
  • Kate: Mary Kate Morrissey
  • The Lady: Neyla Pekarek
  • Stage Directions: Alaina Beth Reel
  • Bass: Nicolas Golder
  • Cello: Neyla Pekarek
  • Guitar: Joshua Skelton
  • Keyboard: Angela Steiner
  • Drums: Blake Watts
  • Stage Manager: Rachel Ducat
  • Stage Management Apprentice: Wayne Brey


Last Night and the Night Before
By Donnetta Lavinia Grays
World Premiere
Developed at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit

When Monique and her 10-year-old daughter, Samantha, show up unexpectedly on her sister’s Brooklyn doorstep, it shakes up Rachel and her partner’s orderly New York lifestyle. Monique is on the run from deep trouble and brings their family’s Southern roots with her, grabbing hold of Rachel’s life more ferociously than she could have ever imagined. Poetic, powerful and remarkably funny, this 2017 Colorado New Play Summit featured play explores the struggle between the responsibilities that are expected of us and the choices we actually end up making.

Read more: Take a deeper dive into Last Night and the Night Before

The Whistleblower
By Itamar Moses
World Premiere
Directed by Oliver Butler

For screenwriter Eli, an offer to finally create his own TV show should be the ultimate culmination of his goals, but instead shocks him into wondering why he had those dreams in the first place. Armed with a new sense of spiritual clarity, he sets out on a quest to serve up some hard truths to his coworkers, family, exes and friends. What could possibly go wrong? A lively world premiere about the lies we tell to protect ourselves and how the tiniest gestures can have deep impact on those around us. Written by Itamar Moses, the Tony Award-winning author of The Band1s Visit, currently on Broadway.

Read more: Take a Deeper Dive into The Whistleblower

The 14th Annual Colorado New Play Summit

  • Launch Weekend: February 16-17
  • Festival Weekend: February 22-24. All-inclusive Festival Weekend packages include four play readings, one concert reading, two fully staged world premieres, plus meals and special events
  • Details and packages available at denvercenter.org

The 2019 Colorado New Play Summit is sponsored by AT&T and Daniel L. Ritchie

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter