Colin Speer Crowley is a playwright-lyricist who has written a variety of dramatic works, including three musicals, twelve straight plays, a rock opera, and a few screenplays. His work has been performed throughout the United States, including California, Washington, Maryland, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Louisiana, Colorado, Kentucky, Texas, and New Jersey. Plays and screenplays by Crowley have been winners or finalists in over 50 national and international contests since 2010 and songs to which he’s written the lyrics have been performed in musical revues in London. Additionally, Crowley has had the pleasure of seeing his work performed in theatrical capitals on both sides of the Atlantic, including Off-Off-Broadway and London’s Covent Garden. A graduate of Northwestern University (BA) and Georgetown University (MA), Crowley is a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Lambs Club, the Playwright’s Center, the New Play Exchange, and Phi Beta Kappa and also served as founder and President of the theatrical group Speerhead Theatricals, Inc..
“Dear Mr. Whitefield” is a two-act play about the cantankerous, troubled preacher George Whitefield, who swept the Anglican establishment by storm in the 1740’s, preaching the dignity of man in a very status-conscious society, and his personal and professional resurrection at the hands of the patrician, determined Countess of Huntingdon. The play follows the Countess’s quest – sometimes touching, sometimes troubled, but always inspiring – to defy the prejudices of her day and lead a religious revolution… that is, if she can only stop Whitefield from running away from his past, from his demons, but most ultimately from himself.
“Encore Encore” is a bittersweet comedy-drama about the turbulent relationship between Dorothy Parker and her first husband, Eddie Parker, who became addicted to morphine and alcohol after serving in the First World War. “Encore Encore” traces Dorothy’s tense relationship with her husband and how she sheltered herself from the pain inflicted by that relationship through the meteoric rise of her career as a dramatic critic. The shelter, however, is a costly one, positioning Dorothy to live in public denial of her painful personal life and stapling her inexorably to a witty, unabashed, unashamed public persona that is not allowed the luxury of emotion.
“Few Thy Voice” is a Hitchcockian drama about the past deeds that haunt us and how we try to liberate ourselves from them, embrace them, or else fall prey to them. The story itself concerns a former movie actress, of delicate mental state, whose guilt at the abandonment of her now-deceased father leads her to take care of elderly, senile men abandoned by their families in rundown nursing homes. A guilt-ridden, well-meaning husband, coupled with a sleazy nursing home proprietor and a sharp-tongued social-climber enable the actress’s caretaking needs to be met. The story quickly turns more than eerie, however, when the newest fatherly focus of the actress’s affection begins to reveal a story of murder in his family – but is his ranting the liberating cry of a male Cassandra or an invention on the part of his mentally delicate caretaker?
“Fifteen Men In A Smoke-Filled Room” is a full-length tragedy detailing the events surrounding the presidential nomination of Warren G. Harding at the Republican National Convention of 1920. Harding could care less about being president and longs for the day when he can return to life as a small-town newspaper editor – but that option appears remote. An ambitious campaign manager, a paralyzingly superstitious wife, and a starstruck young mistress are propelling Harding towards the presidency. Could it be that he is doomed to be president? “Fifteen Men In A Smoke-Filled Room” explores the extent to which fate controls our lives and the self-defeating role we play in our own destinies. The play is a dense, subtle, heavily character-driven piece – devoid of frills and finery – in the Arthur Miller style of drama.
“Hail and Reign” is based on a true story from English history concerning a battle for the throne that took place between the well-meaning nobleman Stephen of Blois and the much-despised (if amusing) Empress Matilda. The play itself details the intriguing and ambiguous relationship between Stephen, Matilda, and Stephen’s wife – a very different Matilda (“Matty”) – as they interact with each other against the struggle for the throne. The story around which the musical is based comes from a relatively under-represented gem in English Medieval (12th century) history – but the musical is not really about kings, queens, and crowns. The major theme of the piece concerns the trials and tribulations human beings are willing to endure for the people they love.
“Harriman-Baines” is a psychological tragedy about a painfully reclusive composer (Carter Harriman) who finds his fragile world of self-imposed isolation shattered when he grants an interview to a cocky and fame-hungry reporter. The resultant dialogue exposes the odd ménage à trois between Harriman, his musical collaborator (the caustic poet Melody Baines), and the poet’s sister Minnie. Melody is dead – but, fortunately, Minnie is psychic and can channel her deceased sister from beyond the grace so that Harriman can still speak with her…. or can he? “Harriman-Baines” is an eerie and morbidly unsettling piece about the causes and consequences of loneliness and the fantasies our minds manufacture to free ourselves from the cruel reality of our own isolation.
“Hello World” is a musical re-telling of the Greek myth of Pandora and her hapless husband – the God Epimetheus – who is tricked into marrying her as part of a crafty plan by Zeus to limit human curiosity. The story behind “Hello World” transforms the traditional legend so that Pandora becomes a heroine for humans rather than a villain who unleashed misery upon the world. Her rabid curiosity is the spark that causes the downtrodden humans of the past to emerge from ignorance and superstition into thinking and feeling beings. There is a new dawn, too, between Pandora and Epimetheus, who, through their struggles for humankind, develop a deep and abiding love for each other. “Hello World” is a play about the true meaning of humanity and the costs associated with human independence.
“Leave It to Ms. Minor” is a two-act drama about the odd relationship between an aging television star and his ambiguous, headstrong, controversial companion. Life is winding down for former sitcom great Radley Chappin when he meets the domineering, debatable, if brilliant Caitlyn Minor in his twilight years. It isn’t long before Minor becomes a fixture in the old man’s life and takes over seemingly all aspects of his existence – for good and for ill. Her growing dominance is recounted by four people in Chappin’s life – his television friend, his estranged daughter, his dutiful manservant, and Minor’s long-time lover – all of them with different opinions about the relationship itself. It is a controversial one, either way, bringing Chappin to new heights of glory, but also chipping away at his remaining hours of life and his diminishing shreds of dignity – and, for Caitlyn Minor, the toll may be an even greater one. Ultimately, we must ask – is she sinner or saint… mastermind or manipulator… advocate or abuser?
“Memory” is the story of a man and a woman who mysteriously meet in a blissful, serene dream and then, later, come face-to-face in the flesh underneath a majestic spruce – a meeting which turns into several meetings, at different intervals of time. While the woman remembers the dream and the utopian peace it bestowed on her life, the man remains in ignorance, eventually causing a rupture between the two, the healing of which ultimately leads the man to a relationship of greater peace with the world and with his own place in it. Ultimately, “Memory” is a thoughtful, touching, intimate tale about the emotional and spiritual journey of two souls looking for peace in their respective lives.
“One Little Wish” is a musical based on a French fairytale (adapted in other quarters as a Puerto Rican fairytale) concerning a miserly septuagenarian who is tormented by people who steal pears from his beloved pear tree. This situation changes when the old man is given a sudden chance to put a curse on the pear tree that traps all potential pear-grabbers in the tree’s branches. The crafty curse, however, ends up causing more trouble than its worth when Death unwittingly becomes trapped in the tree and dooms the world to pain without relief. The day is saved when a widow with a long-hidden secret rescues Death from the tree and brings purpose to the old man’s life. “One Little Wish” is a charming and touching musical fable about the hidden gems that exist in our lives and the undying hope that allows us to live long enough to enjoy them.e is a new dawn, too, between Pandora and Epimetheus, who, through their struggles for humankind, develop a deep and abiding love for each other. “Hello World” is a play about the true meaning of humanity and the costs associated with human independence.
“Philosophus” is a screwball comedy about the egregiously self-righteous philosopher Voltaire and the bizarre escapades surrounding his flight from the court of Frederick II, King of Prussia, from whom he stole a sensitive, personal manuscript of poems. Determined to embarrass the monarch in revenge for an unfortunate falling-out, Voltaire finds his journey to France rudely halted in the city of Frankfurt by the intriguingly Hitlerian Baron von Freytag, representative of the Prussian King. Before too long, the Baron’s over-eagerness to obey his master’s wishes and the enormity of Voltaire’s ego combine to create a purely comedic kind of chaos, which becomes all the more ludicrous by the addition of a money-hungry German shrew, two slightly dim-witted, look-a-like servants, and Voltaire’s buxom, sex-obsessed niece, who fancies herself an ingénue.
“Shadows of Men” is a full-length historical drama about the tragic loss of human individual and dignity in a maddening morass of ideologies and man-made abstractions. The story takes place against the dramatic backdrop of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and concerns the true story of novelist John Dos Passos and his determined search for his friend José Robles. Robles was working for the Republican government of Spain when he mysteriously vanished one night. Dos Passos pledges to find out the truth and puts aside the political aspects of a high-profile sojourn in Spain to get to the bottom of his friend’s disappearance. This passionate dedication to humanity puts the novelist at odds with more ideologically inclined individuals around him – especially the great Ernest Hemingway. Is José Robles really the “friend” that Dos Passos believes him to be? Is there something more behind his disappearance than meets the eye? The rumors are many, but the truth is even worse – and Dos Passos will learn it as his peril.
“The Beggar of Bethesda” is a two-act Biblical drama about the lame man two-thousand years ago who was famously healed by Jesus Christ at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. The beggar is not only lame, but jaded, cynical, apathetic, spending his days conning passersby out of money in the great Temple of Jerusalem. This all changes when a mysterious man appears from out of nowhere and commands that the beggar rise and walk – and, lo, he is cured. This great miracle, however, is not as welcome as expected – not to the temple authorities, not even to the beggar himself – and so he is banished from the city and forced to wander aimlessly. Then, suddenly, a second chance at living comes the beggar’s way – perhaps the only chance he will ever have – but is he faithful enough to take it? “The Beggar of Bethesda” is a play about our relationship with God – the chances He gives us, the overtures we spurn, and the self-destructive role we play in our lives without the strength to believe in something greater than ourselves.
“The Footsteps of God” is a historical drama concerning the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony and the precarious nature of their early existence, focusing especially on the close relationship between Governor William Bradford and the native Squanto. Having recently arrived in the New World, the Pilgrims are in a sorry state, until they find friends in the Pokanoket tribe, chief among them Squanto, who teaches the English how to navigate the local soil and wildlife. However, Squanto is just as much an emotional crutch for the lonely Governor of the colony – and, indeed, vice-versa. Together, Bradford and Squanto form a strong bond, until accusations against Squanto turn the Pilgrims’ world upside down and potentially mean the demise of everything they have built. At its heart, “The Footsteps of God” is a story about faith, broadly defined – faith in God, faith in man – and the strength of that faith in the face of adversity.
“The Man From Morone” is a full-length screenplay about the hermetic mystic Peter of Morone, who, in the late 13th century, was elected and briefly served as Pope of Christendom. The screenplay details the brief and tumultuous papacy of the old man as he tries to steer his booby-trapped way between the Scylla and Charybdis of an unscrupulous king and a crafty prelate. The new Pope soon finds himself drowning in a political whirlpool and serving as the meek pawn of unscrupulous others – until he finally stands up for what he knows is right… but, by then, is it too late? “The Man From Morone” is a story about the tragic timidity of the good and the just when they are confronted by the unrelenting forces of evil and ambition – and the human consequences that follow from that timidity.
"Whit(e)man” is the story of Wally Whitman, a good-looking, professional African-American male who, despite all appearances, insists that he is, and has always been, a white man. Born into the wrong race, Wally relates to us his prolonged journey of self-discovery, aided by a flashy, transgender girlfriend, a Delhi-based customer service representative from Time Warner Cable, a crass, ambulance-chasing trial attorney, a white hobo with blond dreadlocks and abstruse wisdom, and a kooky white psychiatrist, who, like Wally, was born into the wrong race (she is, in fact, Mongolian). A contemporary, quirky satire, "Whit(e)man" puts a whimsical, comedic spin on over-used stereotypes (especially of a racial nature) and pokes fun at various aspects of a politically correct society. More than that, it is a story about identity and about what makes us who we are - what we can change about it, what we can't - and what we perhaps shouldn't.
“Margo Asher Died Here” is a two-hour drama about the controversy and chaos that ensues when two elderly residents of a nursing home engage in a sexual relationship. As the relationship deepens, it quickly impacts those around the couple, creating a civil war among the nursing home’s staff and tearing asunder the romantic relationship between the old man’s son and the old woman’s daughter. Over time, the controversy grows greater and greater, the battle lines grow deeper and deeper, and the questions become ever starker… Are the old man and the old woman using sex to express some great burst of freedom and life – or is this something darker? Could it be rape – and if so, what role does the head nurse really play in all of this… and what might be her motivations? “Margo Asher” is a moving, sometimes droll, sometimes bitter, more often reflective look at how human beings grapple with powerlessness, either those who are powerless themselves or who witness powerlessness in others.
“I and the Emperor” is a two-hour historical drama about the unlikely relationship between the 16-year-old Betsy Balcombe and the aging Napoleon Bonaparte during the latter’s exile on the island of St. Helena. Betsy makes it a point to know the Emperor - first as a harmless, petulant child and second as a misunderstood man of heart and soul - until, one day, a stranger arrives who makes Betsy wonder whether the Emperor really could be the monster everyone claims. “I and the Emperor” is a dramatic, droll, but ultimately touching and thoughtful coming-of-age tale – ultimately, the story of Betsy herself, who comes to understand life, with all its peaks and valleys, through understanding the complexity and tragedy of the exiled Emperor in her backyard.
“Fifteen Men in a Smoke-Filled Room”
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
DATE: November 14-December 15, 2019
“Few Thy Voice”
TYPE: Staged Reading
PRODUCER: Vintage Theatre
VENUE: Bond Trimble Theatre
LOCATION: Aurora, CO
DATE: August 22, 2019
PRODUCER: Plaza Theatre
VENUE: Plaza Theatre
LOCATION: Wharton, TX
DATE: February 22-24, 2019
PRODUCER: Best Medicine Rep
VENUE: Best Medicine Rep Theater at Lakeforest Mall
LOCATION: Gaithersburg, MD
DATE: January 31-February 24, 2019
PRODUCER: Alleyway Theatre
VENUE: Alleyway Theatre
LOCATION: Buffalo, NY
DATE: September 13-October 6, 2018