Kelli Kerslake Colaco

Kelli Kerslake Colaco

Playwright Kelli Kerslake Colaco’s You Are My Sunshine, a multi-decade character study of a man of mythic American proportions whose passions and demons lead to tragedy, will get a West Coast reading Dec. 8 by The Alma Theatre Company in San Francisco.

The fact-inspired ensemble drama about the search for the truth behind a family legend concerning an ancestor and the women and children in his life will be directed by Tracy Ward. The action of the play ranges 1927-1956 (and includes perspective from a character from today, as well). You Are My Sunshine was a semi-finalist in the 2014 National Playwrights Conference of the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Festival.

This fresh presentation — Alma’s inaugural venture — will feature Peter James Meyers, Denise Montgomery, Marcia Pizzo, Valerie Weak, Amanda Farbstein, Teddy Spencer, Ray Renati and Devin O’Brien.

Colaco told me, “My inspiration for writing the play stemmed from peeling back the fundamentals of what truth means in regard to how we view a person’s life; how that perspective sculpts our own lives. My initial ‘truth’ about my great grandfather, Ernest [played by Meyers], had me doubting the very fiber of my own sanity; his son, my grandfather, felt the same.”

Peter James Meyers will read the role of mysterious  ancestor Ernest in "You Are My Sunshine."

Peter James Meyers will read the role of mysterious ancestor Ernest in “You Are My Sunshine.”

She said that Ernest “was a regular man who encountered extraordinary circumstances — and made some bad choices within them. But he was not a mad man, despite the great amount of historic familial supposition that stated the contrary. History can define us, so it would seem a no-brainer to make sure the stories are true.”

The play had an earlier Manhattan reading in July 2013.

This West Coast staged reading is the fourth draft of the play. She explained, “My intention with this new draft is to bring out Ernest’s voice and unique character and to have the audience have a greater understanding and compassion for the character of Jean [played by Montgomery] — a contemporary character whose quest launches the play — and her need to find out the truth about her great grandfather.”

The reading is scheduled for 7:30 PM Dec. 8 at The Tides Theatre, 533 Sutter Street (Second Floor) in San Francisco. It is free and open to the public.

Colaco’s writing credits include the plays The Meeting, Hazardous Materials and the web series “The Meek Shall Inherit.” She is a founding member of The Independent Shakespeare Company. She is currently a Teaching Artist at Marin Theatre Company in Mill Valley, CA

Her select acting credits include Joan Aldrin in “Moonshot” (2010 Emmy-nominated Best Movie Made for Television), Carver at London’s Arcola Theatre (directed by Bill Gaskill), Malcolm/First Witch in Macbeth for London’s Independent Shakespeare Company (directed by David Melville), R&J for Goodspeed Musicals (directed by Terrence Mann) and Merchant of Venice for ISF (directed by Bartlett Sher).

She received an M.F.A from the P.T.T.P. (The Professional Theatre Training Program) at the University of Delaware following the actor training program at P.C.P.A (The Pacific Coast Conservatory for The Performing Arts) in Santa Maria, CA.

Check out The Alma Theatre Company’s website at For industry inquiries about the play, email the playwright at


You Are My Sunshine had developmental readings in The 72nd Street Gang, a New York City writing collective that has included Reg Flowers, Julia Gibson, Enid Graham, Kenneth Jones, Robert Sella, Jeff Talbott and Stephen Kaplan, among others.