A musical based on Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility?
Makes perfectly sensible sense
By Sylvie Drake
There is an undeniable fascination with the works of Jane Austen that has propelled itself into some strong film and television adaptations of many of her novels. These range from Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice (many versions) to Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, Emma and Sense and Sensibility, her first published novel.
Remarkable? Not entirely. There are good reasons. These 19th-century novels resonate in any age because they were the elegantly written soap operas of their day—and we’re all in love with love—at any age and in any age.
Now comes a first: a musical version of Sense and Sensibility. While several stage adaptations of Austen’s works have been attempted, “It’s the first time that a musical of Sense and Sensibility has been done on this scale,” said Marcia Milgrom Dodge, the director of Sense & Sensibility The Musical, adding, “I do try to keep up with everything Jane Austen.”
Our second day of readings (more if you are in a cast) wrapped up with the world premiere of Samuel D. Hunter’s THE WHALE. Read last year during the COLORADO NEW PLAY SUMMIT, this new, riveting play was recently extended for an additional week.
This moving play about a man who has dealt with adversity by eating his way to the brink of death, had the 250-person crowd riveted. Determined to reconcile with his estranged daughter and sacrifice his own health so that he can leave her all that he has, this play is what the Summit is all about - development, hard work and dedication to the craft of playwriting.
Tomorrow the Summit concludes with brunch followed by a reading (or shall we say singing) of SENSE & SENSIBILITY THE MUSICAL by Jeffrey Haddow and Neal Hampton. Jane Austen fans - be ready!
Following two exciting new play readings, our guests headed into the world premiere of TWO THINGS YOU DON’T TALK ABOUT AT DINNER. One of the most exhilarating aspects of a new play festival is when you can see the play’s development from a reading one year to a full production in a subsequent year.
That’s what we experienced with Lisa Loomer’s play about how the taboo topics of religion and politics can threaten relationships. How will it change? Will it match how you imagined it? Will you be disappointed or surprised? The sense of wonder is all around us and we dive in.
Following the well received play, we all piled into The Jones Theatre for the late-night and immensely popular PLAYWRIGHTS’ SLAM. Think of a poetry reading. Playwrights regale audiences with excerpts of pieces in development. Participants include:
Samuel D. Hunter Lisa Loomer Lauren Feldman Michael Mitnick Richard Dresser Jeffrey Haddow Karen Zacarias Marcus Gardley Eric Schmiedl Kirsten Greenidge
Samuel D. Hunter
Eric SchmiedlLucianne LaJoie
Spirits are high and the crowd is loving it. What a great way to end the first day of our readings!
Wow! A combined 125 hours of rehearsal have been put into preparing for our COLORADO NEW PLAY SUMMIT, which begins tomorrow! Plus we are officially SOLD OUT. (If you want to come and don’t have a ticket, you are still encouraged to head down and check for available seats.) But at this point we have DOUBLED the number of “industry” representatives over last year.
PLAYWRIGHTS who are expected to attend include: Jeff Carey, Steven Cole Hughes, Terry Dodd, Richard Dresser, Lauren Eason, Lauren Feldman, Marcus Gardley, Judy GeBauer, Kirsten Greenidge, Jeffrey Haddow, Neal Hampton (composer), Samuel D. Hunter, Luciann Lajoie, Carter Lewis, Leslie Lewis, Felice Locker, Lisa Loomer, Robert McAndrew, William Missouri-Downs, Michael Mitnick, Steve Moulds, Henry Murray, Philip Penningrot, Max Posner, Theresa Rebeck, Eric Schmiedl, Helen Thorpe and Karen Zacarias.
DIRECTORS expected to attend include Hal Brooks, Sam Buntrock, Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Mike Donahue, Pam MacKinnon, Art Manke, Christy Montour-Larson, Ethyl Will (music) and Justin Zsebe.
THEATRES represented include Actors Theatre of Louisville, Arena Stage, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Contemporary American Theatre, Creede Repertory Theatre, Curious Theatre Company, Dallas Theatre Center, Indiana Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Lincoln Theatre, Milwaukee Rep, New Dramatists, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Primary Stages, Page 73, Soho Rep, South Coast Rep and Third Law Dance Theatre.
Our New Play Summit is relatively new compared with others around the country. Now in our seventh year and under the leadership of Artistic Director Kent Thompson and New Play Development Director Bruce Sevy, we have quickly created a new play festival that is attracting attention. National Public Radio is continuing its interest. American Theatre magazine will cover the festival. And we’re delighted that the American Theatre Critics Association will once again hold its Winter meeting to coincide with our event.
Despite the long days and intense work, there is a feeling of anticipation as everyone gets ready to welcome our local and national guests. The excitement is palpable! We will see what tomorrow brings.
The second day of the COLORADO NEW PLAY SUMMIT had our 100 artistic team members actively engaged in five hours of rehearsal. The casts and crews of Lisa Loomer’s HOMEFREE and Richard Dresser’s THE HAND OF GOD had an “on stage” rehearsal when they worked in The Jones and The Ricketson theatres respectively.
Meanwhile, the casts and crews of Jeffrey Haddow and Neal Hampton’s SENSE & SENSIBILITY THE MUSICAL, MIchael Mitnick’s ED, DOWNLOADED and Lauren Feldman’s GRACE, OR THE ART OF CLIMBING were rehearsing in our cleverly named (and painted) Yellow, Purple and Orange rehearsal studios.
But you might be wondering what happens on these days. While directors SAM BUNTROCK (Ed, Downloaded), MIKE DONAHUE (GRACE…), PAM MACKINNON (The Hand of God), MARCIA MILGROM DODGE (Sense & Sensibility) and JUSTIN ZSEBE (Homefree) work with the actors on bring the script to life with tone, inflection, dialect, etc., the playwright spends a lot of time listening, gauging and refining.
Then lines are cut, dialogue is added, scripts are changed, copies are made and the whole process begins again tomorrow in preparation for the weekend’s public readings.
And then there’s tonight - a time for the participants to see plays that went through this same process last year and are now being fully produced by our DENVER CENTER THEATRE COMPANY: THE WHALE by Samuel D. Hunter and TWO THINGS YOU DON’T TALK ABOUT AT DINNER by Lisa Loomer.
Then there’s a little food and drink to connect, refresh, reminisce and anticipate what the coming days will bring.
And we’re off! More than 100 playwrights, directors, dramaturgs, actors, stage managers and other key staff gathered this morning to kick off the DENVER CENTER THEATRE COMPANY's seventh COLORADO NEW PLAY SUMMIT.
Five readings of new works in development, plus two full productions of new plays and the ever-popular Playwrights’ Slam will be experienced by theatre industry representatives from across the nation, local and national press, and local theatre patrons.
The casts are assembled and the work has started on the second floor of our Newman Center. Here’s what you can expect coming up Feb 10-12:
SENSE & SENSIBILITY
Based in the novel by Jane Austen
Book and Lyrics by Jeffrey Haddow Music by Neal Hampton
Directed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge
Music Direction by Ethyl Will
by Michael MItnick
Directed by Sam Buntrock
Dramaturgy by Douglas Langworthy
Multimedia Design by Charlie I. Miller
THE HAND OF GOD
by Richard Dresser
Directed by Pam MacKinnon
by Lisa G. Loomer
Directed by Justin Zsebe
Dramaturgy by Liz Engelman
GRACE, OR THE ART OF CLIMBING
by Lauren Feldman
Directed by Mike Donahue
Dramaturgy by Liz Frankel
Stay tuned for a daily recap of our work in development.