A western drama is something you just don’t ever see on stage. You may see parodies of Westerns. But a drama?
To Jeff Horger, that is perhaps the most interesting aspect of “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” which opens at the Omaha Community Playhouse this month.
“This is a decidedly unique piece of theater,” points out Horger, who directs the show. “It is a play, a period drama, but it is set in a time and a location where plays today simply don’t exist. It is a familiar genre that we simply don’t see on stage. ”
“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” is a classic American Western at a time when the genre dominated the silver screen. Directed by John Ford, the movie starred Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne and Lee Marvin. Heck, Edith Head got an Academy Award nomination for costume design (although from the looks of the production photos, Amanda Fehlner’s costume design would give her a run for her money). Ransome Foster, a stranger from out East, becomes the target of the outlaw Liberty Valance. Foster is faced with the choice of fleeing or standing his ground for what he believes.
The story was developed into a play by, of all people, a British writer named Jethro Compton in 2014. The overall story is the same as the film, but Horger finds interesting stylistic differences in the characters. “The author clearly has this love of the concept of the American West, but he has a different take on the American West—it’s through a different lens.”
Setting the production in the intimate Howard Drew Theatre intensifies the conflict and heightens the tension as the story moves towards the ultimate confrontation between the two men. The audience becomes a witness to the drama, just as do the other characters standing in their midst. The cast includes Dennis Stessman as Ransome Foster, Brennan Thomas as Liberty Valance, Sydney Readman plays Hallie Jackson and Isaac Reilly is Bert Barracune. Jim Othuse’s Old West set design places the audience in the middle of the saloon in the small frontier town of Twotrees.
“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” Go check out the legend at the Omaha Community Playhouse in February.
The Omaha Community Playhouse’s production of “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” will run from February 10 through March 12. Shows are Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30, with Sunday matinees at 2:00. Tickets are $36 and $22 for students. Half price “twilight tickets” may also be available in person at the box office window starting at noon on the day of the show. Cash and check are the only accepted forms of payment for twilight tickets. No phone reservations accepted for this special offer, and seats are limited and subject to availability. No advanced reservations can be made for twilight tickets. The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha. Tickets are available by calling the Omaha Community Playhouse box office at (402) 553-0800 or toll free at 1-888-782-4338 or online at https://ticketomaha.com/Productions/the-man-who-shot-liberty-valance. Box office hours are Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 am to 5 pm, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 am to 6:30 pm and Sundays from noon to 4 pm. Questions? Contact the OCP box office or e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.