Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride follows the unexpected career shift of an Elvis impersonator who starts doing drag in a dead-end Panhandle bar after his wife tells him a baby is on the way. Catherine Trieschmann’s stinging, observant comedy The Most Deserving tracks the shenanigans of a small-town Kansas arts council. Laura Eason’s The Vast In-Between looks at a traveling, tempted career woman and the strains in her marriage as her husband’s unemployment drags on.
Marcus Gardley’s ambitious black odyssey, which had Tony Award nominee André De Shields and Broadway veteran Brenda Pressley in its cast, merges Homer’s play, a soldier’s story and key events in black history. Karen Zacarías’ Just Like Us, based on the bestseller by journalist Helen Thorpe, follows a quartet of Denver Latinas — two legal immigrants, two not — from high school through college and beyond.
“The Summit has grown in industry awareness and attendance, which contributes to the ability to continue the life of the plays,” says Thompson. “We’ve also developed a very strong regional and local audience for new play productions and the Summit. A lot of people come every year to the readings, then they come back to see the full productions.”
Thompson and the Denver Center Theatre’s new play specialists decide about a week after the end of the Summit which plays they want to fully produce the following season. It wouldn’t be surprising if Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride is one of them.
Pulled toward television and, quite likely, to writing movies, Lopez swears he’ll always be involved in theater — hard as it can be. At the Summit, for instance, he kept rewriting and rewriting, giving his play a new second act. But he loved the process.
“Theater is magic,” he says. “I am addicted to it. I am never more alive, never more fulfilled and happy than when I’m in rehearsal with a play.”
And that Mile High magic, a group of fresh new worlds shared each February by playwrights, actors, directors and audiences, is what the Colorado New Play Summit so engagingly celebrates.