The Whale is a big hit -- so big that the Denver Center is adding shows

Fat people are an entertainment staple these days, from The Biggest Loser to the Food Network's new offering, Fat Chef. Still, you wouldn't really expect a play about a 600-pound man slowly dying in his own living room to garner a whole lot of attention, especially when it's textured and literate and has nothing to do with sweaty workouts, blubbery self-pity and yelling coaches.

But Samuel D. Hunter's The Whale has received such enthusiastic audience responses -- and such terrific reviews (here's ours) -- that the Denver Center Theatre Company has added four extra performances.

The protagonist, Charlie, is gay. He teaches a writing class online, where his students can't see what he looks like. During the course of the evening, he is visited by a devoted friend, who has her own reasons for trying to help him, a young Mormon, his ex-wife, and the angry spiteful daughter he's determined to connect with--and the results are absorbing. At the Ricketson through February 25. Denver Performing Arts Complex, 303-893-4100, www.denvercenter.org.

The success of The Whale is a testament to the Denver Center's New Play Summit, which takes place this weekend. The play received a staged reading at last year's summit, and the full production will be seen by critics, industry people and theater lovers from across the country as part of the 2012 event this weekend.

For more information on the Summit, call 303-893-6030 or go to the Denver Center's website.

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