Sometimes, a person becomes a legend whether they planned to be or not. It is a safe bet that Kate Slaughterback, an infamous Greeley frontierswoman, didn’t plan on going down in history as Rattlesnake Kate. But that’s how things happen sometimes.

And now Kate’s story is being told on the stage thanks to a collaboration by Aurora native and musician Neyla Pekarek (formerly of The Lumineers) and playwright Karen Hartman.

“Audiences are going to come away empowered. It’s a show about strong women,” said Gina Naomi Baez, who plays Celia in the production. “The show is really for everyone and very inspiring to see all the trials the characters go through and triumphs they have.”

“Rattlesnake Kate” is making its world premiere at the Wolf Theatre in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts through Sunday, March 13. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. most days, with several matinees at 2 p.m. and two 8 p.m. performances as part of the Colorado New Play Summit.


Directed by Chris Coleman and featuring choreography by Dominique Kelley, the musical is based on the true events of Slaughterbeck’s life, including the event that made her famous: About 100 years ago she “fought tooth and nail, armed with a single rifle and a `No Hunting’ sign, to save her son from 140 rattlesnakes,” according to provided information.

The event made Kate (played by Alyse Alan Louis) a worldwide celebrity, but her story goes beyond that – after she became famous, she still had to fight to find a partner, be treated as an equal and ensure other women get a fair shake.

The musical had its first reading at the 2019 Colorado New Play Summit and ended up being the first musical commissioned by the DCPA Theatre Company. The creatives behind it spent some time working on it in New York City and that’s where Baez first came upon the project.

“This is the longest process I’ve been a part of – I’ve done a new musical before, but I came in at the end of the process,” she said. “Celia is Kate’s friend and the only woman you see her confiding in and getting advice from. She’s really sassy and speaks her mind.”

Getting to see how a character develops from the initial idea to a fully realized creation has been fascinating for Baez. She said they played around with many ideas for her and ended with her being a more feminine, discrete woman – but one no less strong for that.

Since the show is brand new, audiences get the rare treat of seeing something they aren’t familiar with. And the premiere being in the same state as the actual woman is from adds an extra layer to everything.

“It’s great to hear the audience reaction since they’re seeing all this for the first time. They don’t know what to expect yet,” she said. “If you’re from Colorado, you’re going to walk away being really proud to be from here.”

Get information and tickets at


LSO highlights the importance of timing

In life, timing is everything. The Lakewood Symphony Orchestra is celebrating this truth with its “Timing is the Key,” concert, held at the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway.

The show will feature Sarah Switzer playing the viola in the performance of Viola Concerto in D Major, Op. 1. Switzer is a recent Yale University graduate, where she served as the principal violist of the Yale Symphony Orchestra for three years. Other included pieces will be Mozart’s Divertimento in F Major, K. 138, and Humperdinck’s selections from Hansel and Gretel.

The concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 10. For information and tickets, call 303-987-7845 or visit


CJRO brings early summer to Arvada Center

While we’re not quite in summer weather yet, the Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra is bringing a little Brazil to the Arvada Center with Brazil Calling: Featuring the Music of Antônio Carlos Jobim.

The performance will be at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 5 at the center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. Guest artists include pianist Victor Mestas and Carl Dixon on percussion, and they’ll be joined by vocalist Heidi Schmidt. The orchestra will be led by artistic director Drew Zaremba.

Tickets are available at


Clarke’s Concert of the Week — Hiss Golden Messenger at Bluebird Theater

The New York Times wrote the following about the music made by North Carolina’s Hiss Golden Messenger: “There is just something about Hiss Golden Messenger’s music that makes it feel like a golden-hued summer day even when it’s not.” I really can’t put it any better than that.


Hiss Golden Messenger will be bringing some of that sun-tinged music to the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave. in Denver at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 4 and Saturday, March 5. Get tickets at


Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at