The Wyoming Theater Festival is establishing itself as a major force in the development of new works for the American theater. The entire focus of WyoTF is aiding playwrights and musical theater teams in the creation of new work worthy of today’s audiences, and shepherding these works towards full productions on stages across the nation. We consider our job unfinished until the plays we develop have found their world premieres.
The audience is central to our development process. Audience reactions will often reveal which parts of an emerging play are successful and which need work. WyoTF provides that live audience experience to our theater creators. And we further serve audiences by offering a full-immersion experience into the world of the festival. Our events include back stage tours, discussions, workshops, lectures, readings, gatherings – a full program of attractions to engage, delight and stimulate theater fans, all of this taking place surrounded by one of the most beautiful landscapes in the West. For more information about the Wyoming Theater Festival, please visit the WyoTF website.
WyoTF is partnering with the Sheridan College Theater Department to expose students to the world of theater outside of our home state of Wyoming. This helps mitigate the challenges theater students in our relatively isolated region face as they strive to understand today’s theater and to begin to carve out careers in the field. At WyoTF, students interact with theater professionals to develop meaningful projects which are on track for production in the professional theater world. Nothing forges friendship like the crucible of new play development, and these professional associations are invaluable to students as they establish themselves after graduation. In addition, working with professionals expands students’ understanding of what the theater is and what it is like to work in that world.
2016 Plays / Performances
Ring of Fire
The Music of Johnny Cash
Created by Richard Maltby, Jr.
Conceived by William Meade
Orchestrations by Steven Bishop and Jeff Lisenby
Directed by Brian Russell
It’s a joy-and-heartache musical celebration of The Man in Black with two dozen of his greatest hits, including “I Walk the Line,” “A Boy Named Sue,” “Folsom Prison Blues.” A gifted cast will take audiences on the musical journey that was the life of Cash, from the cotton fields of Arkansas to the Grand Ol’ Opry — a journey through his legendary romance with June Carter, through his struggles and successes, rowdiness and redemption. Crowd-pleasing and foot-stomping, particularly when the title song is sung, this show has connected thousands of fans with the spirit of the man and created enthusiastic new audiences for the American legend named Johnny Cash.
East of Heart Mountain
By Edward Allan Baker
Directed by Giovanna Sardelli
Sheridan, Wyoming is the setting of East of Heart Mountain, a two act drama about Cora Reed a recluse who created a stir during WW II. Following a personal tragedy, Cora finds solace listening to her son’s short wave radio. She inadvertently picks up the signal of a Japanese radio program broadcasting the voices of captured U.S. soldiers. Obsessed, Cora listens day and night, writing down the words she hears from the P.O.W’s and conveying those messages to the families of those soldiers. Cora’s efforts provoke displeasure in the U.S. War Department and objections from her husband, a government employee. Yet Cora defies the male powers that encroach upon her and succeeds in giving hope to the families of the captured soldiers.
Alice Formerly of Wonderland
By Mark Saltzman
Directed by Kent Nicholson
Based on true events.
It’s about Alice. Yes, THAT Alice — Alice Liddell, who, as a child, was the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s immortal story. Now Alice is in her teen years, living at Oxford where her father serves as a Dean. History tells us that in 1871, Prince Leopold, youngest son of Queen Victoria, enrolled in Oxford and was enchanted by the famous and beautiful Alice. This romantic comedy tells the tale of the Prince’s courtship of Alice and the Queen’s furious objections. All is accompanied by well-known songs of the era and a few glimpses of the creatures of Alice’s Wonderland.
Cast of Thousands
Book & Concept by Eric Michael Gillett and Arthur Masella
Directed by Arthur Masella
Starring Eric Michael Gillett
The cast of this show may not number in four figures, but all of the characters are remarkably brought to musical life by one single performer: Eric Michael Gillett. With songs heartfelt, comic and passionate, Eric evokes a variety of people from many walks of life — A cowboy, a not-so-average housewife, a spouse in a dissolving marriage, another rejoicing in a newlywed nest. Young boys dream of snow days off from school while a retiree scrambles to fill his day. A performer on stage and television, Eric presented an earlier version of “Cast of Thousands” in the cabarets of Manhattan, where the New York Times wrote “The verb ‘sings’ is really inadequate to evoke the acute empathy with which Eric Michael Gillett transformed theatre songs by Craig Carnelia into lived experience. Not only do you see the world through the characters’ eyes, but you also feel it through their nervous systems.” Craig Carnelia, the show’s songwriter, is known for his Broadway hits “Is There Life After High School?” and “Working.”
Book and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Music by Stephan Flaherty
Based on “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo”
By Michael Butterworth
First Produced by Playwrights Horizons, Inc.
Off-Broadway in 1988
Directed by Emma Hall
When Sheridan home girl Emma Hall graduated from Brown University, she didn’t forget her roots. Leaving the Ivy League, Emma came back to Wyoming and in 2014 established a theater troupe for young people, called Funny Face Productions. Since then, Funny Face has given stage-struck youths of the area the chance to participate in summer theater, on-stage and off. And the shows they’ve presented have been praised as audience charmers.
This summer, Emma and the members of Funny Face are excited to present the off-Broadway hit, Lucky Stiff, the first show written by the team of Ahrens and Flaherty, who would later create Ragtime and Seussical. This award-winning, hilarious, musical comedy is set in that Riviera playground of the rich and famous, Monte Carlo, where a struggling shoe salesman has the chance to make off with millions – IF he can complete one simple, yet bizarre, task. Songs, comedy, and the dazzle of the Riviera casinos are among the delights of this award-winning musical.