CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — For Stephen Crandall, it’s a Texas-sized reunion for him and the “TEXAS” musical, which showcases the history of the Panhandle in an incredible outdoor venue.
“I was very excited to be a part of a production that means a lot to me,” said Crandall, who’s in his second season as Artistic Director of the musical.
Crandall got his first taste of “TEXAS” as an actor, playing the role of protagonist homesteader Calvin Armstrong from 1999 to 2001, and returned to the iconic musical last season as artistic director.
“My first season was great. It was an awesome summer in 2022. We had a great company. I enjoyed the opportunity to tell the story of the early Texas settling. In this way, we embrace some — some return of some original sort of elements of the show that might have been kind of, you know, slowly moved away from the show over the last few years,” he said.
“TEXAS” tells the story of the Panhandle in the late 1880s, and covers everything from settler life, cowboys and ranchers, the railroad industry coming in, and more.
All of it is in front of a live audience at the famous Pioneer Amphitheater, which is located in the majestic Palo Duro Canyon.
“There’s a lot of comedic elements. There’s a lot of dramatic elements. It’s a love story,” Crandall noted.
The energy of opening night is unmatched.
“It’s partially the energy that the cast brings,” said Brian Kuhnert, who plays the role of Uncle Henry. “But it’s so much more the energy that the audience brings. That opening night audience — they know that they are the first people that get to see this, you know, this current version of the show and their excitement — you literally can feel it when we hit the stage.”
Kuhnert is in his 20th season with the musical, and his 16th in the role of Uncle Henry.
“Uncle Henry is the rancher of the area. He is basically the — he has spent his lifetime developing his ranch and — and developing his herd and finding his own sense of stability. In his life and the Panhandle. He is a man that is very set in his ways,” he explained.
A good show isn’t the only thing audiences can look forward to.
“We offer a dinner in addition to your tickets, so that’s Fat Boy’s BBQ,” said Stephanie Price, Marketing Director for “TEXAS”. “So you get some local barbecue, you can come out and see a show that’s been going for 57 years and entertained millions of people.”
People can purchase tickets online, and children 5 and under are free.
Crandall sums it all up.
“All of that mixture of elements to me make ‘TEXAS’ a really unique and awesome experience to see,” he said.