This show runs approximately 2-1/4 hours, including one intermission.
PLEASE NOTE: This production includes recorded gunshots, plus one brief scene with a smoking effect of safe, non-toxic vapor.
THE HOUSE OPENS 45 MINUTES BEFORE CURTAIN. You may want to arrive early to enjoy the exhibit in our art gallery with refreshments ranging from coffee and cookies to beer and wine.
POST-SHOW DISCUSSION: Join the company of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance for a post-show discussion following the Sunday matinee on June 9th.
AUDIO-DESCRIPTION: The Sunday, June 16th performance will be audio-described, based on reservations. Click here for a description of this and other access services at TRP.
About the Show
(company members are listed at the bottom, following the interview with the director)
Ransome Foster, an East Coaster and intellectual, is a fish out of water in the western town of Twotrees. Yet after being left for dead by roadside outlaws, he finds help and begins to acclimate to his new surroundings with the help of the townspeople, including Hallie, the feisty proprietor of the Prairie Belle, and Jim, an unassuming young man with unexpected gifts. But can he survive when Liberty Valance wants him dead?
Spanning two decades and drawing on the vivid imagery and strong, well-drawn characters- outlaws, lawmen, steely women, understated heroes– this epic gunslinger is a near-perfect tribute to the Old West that plays powerfully to modern audiences. So it may surprise some to learn that this play was written in 2014, by British playwright, and that it is based not on the 1962 John Ford film, but rather on a short story of the same name, written by Dorothy M. Johnson in the 1950s. No matter the midcentury modern provenance or British influence. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance strikes deep chords of friendship, love, loss, and good vs. evil that connect with audiences today.
Brian P. Joyce has marshalled (sorry) an exciting cast and company to bring this heady brew (can’t help it) to our corral. OK? (Stopping now).
Interview with the Director
Q: What draws you to this play?
JOYCE: I enjoyed the film version in my youth and the story is compelling with interesting characters. It is a rugged story filled with love, compassion, heart break and violence. Just what a western should be.
Q: While Jethro Compton’s play premiered in 2014, the title is best known from the 1962 John Ford movie starring John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Lee Marvin. How much are you and your company drawing on the film for inspiration?
JOYCE: Very little as the story line was adapted to be a John Wayne vehicle. The play stays very true to the story written by Dorothy M. Johnson.
Q: For many of the TRP audience who grew up in the era of TV westerns, there were always the good guys versus the bad guys. Given your own life experience, how does this play fit that tradition? In what ways would you say it deviates from that tradition? In what ways does this feel like a much more modern story?
JOYCE: It is a good guy bad guy story with a twist. Burt and Liberty are true old west stereotypical characters. Rance however brings into this small town a broader view of the world, of humanity and of justice. I think the playwright has done an excellent job of keeping the feel truly of the American west. His script is intellectual the characters use words as their main weapons in this story. The violence is left to hour imagination.
Q: The show’s characters are very well written, very vivid. And the relationships that play out are so compelling…taking you from warmth and laughter to fear, sorrow, rage…How does your cast prepare for working through this roller coaster of emotions?
JOYCE: We are as a group working the moments and discovering how best to be true to them. We spent several days doing table work talking over the script, the world they inhabit and their relationships. We work each scene to find the right look, tone, silence and emotion to tell this story as powerfully as we can.
Q: Talk a little about your casting choices for this show, including your ensemble players. How will they serve the production?
JOYCE: Our cast in this case are all actors I have never worked with. They all fill a need of the script. They are all talented, committed and bring so much to this production. We have veteran actors and some new folks just starting out. We will all learn from each other in this process. Our amazing ensemble of actors will help us set the mood for our show. They will add music and a sense of what Two Trees is and was.
Q: How does this material suit our intimate arena space?
JOYCE: The way this story unfolds the majority of our scenes are only two or three actors. The intimate space here at TRP is an excellent place to tell this story. The round however offers unique challenges for small talk heavy scenes. We have to be creative in actor placement and always aware of keeping all sections of the arena engaged.
Q: How will the production elements support this powerful story?
JOYCE: Our set, sound plot, lighting, costumes and props will drive home our setting. The combination these factors with live instruments on stage and the incredible work of our talented actors will make for an exciting and emotionally charged night of theater.
Q: Anything else you’d like to say?
JOYCE: I am grateful to everyone that has been involved in creating this production. Theater is the ultimate team sport and we have one great team!
Liberty Valance: John Goodrich
Ensemble: Joseph Homrich
Hallie Jackson: Laura Hoover
Jim Mosten: Samuel Joseph
Ensemble (Dowitt): Jacob Marcott
Ensemble: Shara Marquez
Ransom Foster: Scott Pearson
Ensemble: Selma Petterson
Marshal Johnson / Ensemble: Timmy Rawerts
Burt Barricune: David Tufford
Ensemble: Celia Adeline Wendt
ARTISTIC & PRODUCTION STAFF
Director: Brian P. Joyce
Stage Manager / Assistant Director: Scott Eric Gilbert
Set Designers: Latoya Dennis, Sadie Ward
Lighting Designer: Mark Kieffer
Costume Designer: A. Emily Heaney
Prop Designer: Robert J. Smith
Sound Designer: Matthew Vichlach
Assistant Lighting Designer: Christopher Gehrke
Assistant Costume Designer: Mandi Johnson
Assistant Sound Designer: Jeff Musch