Three world premieres top expanded season

DENVER — World premieres of new plays from Theresa Rebeck, Octavio Solis and Eric Schmiedl top an expanded season for the Denver Center Theater Company, artistic director Kent Thompson’s third with the regional legit troupe.

Fresh off four readings and a world premiere from his second annual Colorado New Play Summit, Thompson’s 2007-08 season builds on the company’s New Voices initiative, with its emphasis on women and minority playwrights.

“Playwrights should have a special place in contemporary society,” says Thompson. “They express the things that are worrying us, obsessing us as a culture — both the comic and the tragic.”

The new season’s DCTC-commissioned works include Rebeck’s “Our House,” a take on the thrall of media, fame and fortune; Solis’ “Lydia,” which witnesses the tragic destruction of a Mexican immigrant family chasing the American dream; and Schmiedl’s adaptation of Kent Haruf’s novel, “Plainsong,” the bestselling panorama of love and loss on the Colorado high plains.

In a nod to DCTC’s broad subscriber base, Thompson’s new season will include twelve productions (up from eleven last year), balancing untested works with chestnuts that are seldom revived in these parts. Among them are “You Can’t Take It With You,” “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “White Christmas” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor.”

The toughest ticket will be John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer and Tony-winner “Doubt.” Add Wendy Wasserstein’s final work, the sociopolitical comedy drama “Third” (which opens the season Sept. 20), and Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder’s “Gee’s Bend,” which weaves quilting and the civil rights movement, and it’s hard to find a cultural niche Thompson hasn’t addressed.

An unannounced musical will close the season, running concurrent with the 2008 National Performing Arts Convention in June.

The DCTC season’s large casts and growing schedule speak volumes about Thompson’s fundraising success — including a comfortably over-subscribed women’s playwright fund — and the persuasive prowess of Daniel Ritchie, the new chairman of the umbrella Denver Center for the Performing Arts board.

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