Stop in at the 'Dry Branch' for a night in the Old West

 

Roger Burlingame and Midge Maloney, as Frank Butler and Annie Oakley, disagree about who's the best sharpshooter at rehearsal for

Roger Burlingame and Midge Maloney, as Frank Butler and Annie Oakley, disagree about who's the best sharpshooter at rehearsal for "Songs of the Dusty Trails & Wild West Tales" at the Rosenzweig Arts Center Tuesday. The evening of music, skits and poetry begins at 7 p.m. Friday. Photo by: Courtesy photo

 

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From left, Terry Coffey, Vicki Hill and Nick Ross — as Miss Tilley, Miss Kitty and Doc Adams — rehearse Tuesday for western-themed skits they'll be part of Friday at the Columbus Arts Council's Rosenzweig Arts Center.

From left, Terry Coffey, Vicki Hill and Nick Ross — as Miss Tilley, Miss Kitty and Doc Adams — rehearse Tuesday for western-themed skits they'll be part of Friday at the Columbus Arts Council's Rosenzweig Arts Center.
Photo by: Courtesy photo

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

 

Kick off the spurs and pull up a chair Friday as the Columbus Arts Council and Columbus Community Theatre revisit the frontier with "Songs of the Dusty Trails & Wild West Tales." The 7 p.m. show at the arts council's Rosenzweig Arts Center Omnova Theater in downtown Columbus combines music, brief skits and poetry for a glimpse into the bygone era of cowboys and campfires. Along the way, familiar characters like Matt Dillon, Miss Kitty and Annie Oakley make an appearance. Their performances complement the CAC's "Headin' West" seasonal theme celebrating arts inspired by the American West. 

 

"We think this will be a fun night. We started out on the East Coast last year, and we're trying to work our way across the country, featuring visual and performing arts representing different regions," said CAC Program Manager Beverly Norris.  

 

"Dusty Trails" opens in Dodge City's Dry Branch Saloon, a play on the Long Branch Saloon of "Gunsmoke" fame. But the town has gone dry, leaving the saloon serving only tea, coffee, milk and sarsaparilla to the cast of characters that comes in off the dusty street. 

 

"We're bemoaning the fact that the railroad is not coming through Dodge," said Roger Burlingame, who appears as Dillon, and later as marksman Frank Butler. Butler's counterpart is sharpshooter Annie Oakley, portrayed by Midge Maloney. The pair was a fixture in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. On Friday, they square off musically over who's the better shot.  

 

"As we come into the saloon, we're murmuring about who's best," said Maloney of a scene that sets up a performance of Irving Berlin's "Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)." 

 

Others at the Dry Branch will include Vicki Hill as Miss Kitty, Nick Ross as Doc Adams, Linda Bobbitt as Ma Good and Terry Coffey as school marm Miss Tilley.  

 

Musical guests including Paul Brady, Katie Burchfield, Mike O'Bryant, Clara Ortega -- and violinists Diane Ford, Jan Atkins and Patti Gildea -- will treat the audience to songs such as "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," "Wayward Wind" and "Shenandoah." Marquet McBride will share poetry. Angie Basson will play Native American flute. 

 

Ortega plans to perform two songs in Spanish, "Malaguena" and "Soledad y El Mar." Born in southern California, Ortega is the daughter of parents who immigrated from Mexico. She has lived in Columbus for six years. 

 

"I feel very lucky that I get to share a little bit of my heritage with the community that's become my home," she said. 

 

"With the railroad bypassing our fictional Dodge, the Dry Branch is closing after a long run, and folks are coming into town to give it a good send-off," said Norris. "We hope everyone will join us for an evening of good humor and moving moments." 

 

For ticket information, or contact the arts council at 662-328-2471 (closed Mondays).  

 

 

 

IF YOU GO: 

 

■ WHO: Columbus Arts Council, Columbus Community Theatre 

 

■ WHAT: "Songs of the Dusty Trails & Wild West Tales" 

 

■ WHEN: Friday, June 21, 7 p.m. 

 

■ WHERE: Columbus Arts Council Rosenzweig Arts Center, 501 Main St. 

 

■ TICKETS: CAC members $15 advance/$17 at door; non-members $20 advance/$22 at door, at columbus arts.org or 662-328-2787 (closed Mondays).

 

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

 

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