By Tom Larson
The Morris PlayRights Community Theatre group is rustlin' up a night of rootin', tootin' -- in one scene, quite literally -- western fun that definitely is all hat and cattle.
The PlayRights will present "Saddle Soar" on Friday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Morris Area Concert Hall.
The variety and musical production is a collaboration of the PlayRights and the University of Minnesota, Morris Jazz Band and director Jim Carlson, also known as "Wild Doc" Carlson and the Come 'N Git It Boys.
And the PlayRights took to heart another bit of western wisdom -- "Never miss a good chance to shut up" -- and filmed the silent movie "Son of the Guns." The locally produced film will be shown during "Saddle Soar."
Director Margaret Payne said that "'Son of the Guns' is a movie that we like to think the west wasn't big enough for."
The Playrights had produced the "Good Enough" holiday variety shows in previous years and this year were contemplating a Valentine's Day show. However, with the Jazz Band's tight schedule, the April date worked best, and none of the performers wanted to miss a chance to work with Carlson and the musicians, Payne said.
"Doc is always accommodating, always game for any of the funny things we do to him," Payne said. "And the band, even if we didn't do a show, everybody wants to sing with them. Just to rehearse with them is fun."
"Saddle Soar" gives the performers a little more variety of music to perform, be it ballads, western swing or gospel. Some of the skits feature western favorites with rewritten lyrics. The Kiwanis Barbershop Quartet also will perform, for this night as the Nogales Nasalaires.
Filming "Son of the Guns" proved difficult yet wildly entertaining, Payne said.
The PlayRights produced a short film as part of one of their "Mighty Variety" shows a few years ago, and there was talk of filming the "making of" one of the group's productions from beginning to end. That idea was quickly, well, edited, Payne said.
"We've wanted to do a film for a long time," she said. "But we're all so busy with other things it would take two years to edit it."
The UMM theatre department helped with the costumes and props and the players took to the concept. So emerged "Son of the Guns," the tale of a town dealing with the arrival of the notorious Big Lucky ... who wasn't.
"It was a fun thing to do," Payne said. "People want to be creative and have fun. As for the show, it adds a little variety."
Advance tickets for "Saddle Soar" will be on sale at the Prairie Renaissance Cultural Alliance in Morris starting April 1.
The PRCA is going to be selling "Cowboy Grub" prior to the show - BBQs, baked beans, chips, and beverages.