“Sagebrush Sidekicks” a dinner theatre delight

The cast of Sagebrush Sidekicks dinner theatre included (back) Lathrop Hughes, Kalene Weinholdt and Elizabeth Landis. (Front) Meredith Deming, Caleb Dodds, Shana Holiday, Stephy Joos, Gary Zellers and Collin Cochran.

The cast of Sagebrush Sidekicks dinner theatre included (back) Lathrop Hughes, Kalene Weinholdt and Elizabeth Landis. (Front) Meredith Deming, Caleb Dodds, Shana Holiday, Stephy Joos, Gary Zellers and Collin Cochran.
MEEKER I “Sagebrush Sidekicks,” the debut dinner theatre production of The Meeker Arts and Cultural Council (MACC), was a hilarious hit with more than 100 enthusiastic theatre patrons on Saturday evening. The old elementary school gymnasium provided a venue for the 19th century old west melodrama. Laurie Zellers and her team of MACC hosts prepared and served a delicious family-style western theme dinner that included fried chicken, beans, corn, potato salad and apple crisp dessert. Meeker patrons, as well as guests who traveled from Rangely and Dinosaur were treated to some of the best live comedy seen in Meeker for many years.
As is traditional with dinner theatre, cast and crew members interacted with audience members to heighten the fun and participation, taking a surprise interlude in the middle of the act to sing “happy birthday” to a surprised guest. Cast members also served the audience members before the show and during intermission.
The hilarious comedy centers around the legendary western hero Skipalong Rafferty (Lathrop Hughes) who needs a new sidekick. His last three died under unusual circumstances. So Skipalong has his personal secretary, Netti Buntline (Stephy Joos) hold a “Sidekick Contest,” which consists of various “sidekick endeavors” such as: making horrible coffee, running out of bullets during a gunfight and throwing his pistol at the bad guy, chasing after a villain and losing his britches in the process, making absurd faces at the taste of a shot of “Red Eye,” getting loose from a hogtie, and a few other “challenges.” But bizarre accidents keep causing Skipalong to lose the services of his many personal secretaries, resulting in a tie between all four of the scruffy sidekick contestants. Now Skipalong has to make the choice himself, and a few twists put him in a predicament he never expected. Audience members greatly enjoyed the unexpected surprise conclusion, rewarding the cast with a standing ovation.
The “sidekicks” were portrayed by a litany local veteran thespians including Collin Cochran’s especially colorful rendition of “Grubby Fingers,” Caleb Dodds as “Lumpy Davenport,” director Gary
Zellers joined the cast in the role of “Fuzzy McDonald,” and Kalene Weinholdt as “Saddlesore Sam,” a sidekick with a wild side.
The role of “Pearl Diver,” one of the secretaries, was played by Elizabeth Landis; “Hildegard Heinie,” the German school teacher, was delightfully played by Shana Holliday; Meredith Deming rounded out the great cast with her zany performance as”Buffalo Becky.”
The production was ably directed by Laurie Zellers and Gary Zellers, Blake Hardy coordinated sound and music, and Bob Amick was the lighting designer.
A survey completed by patrons during the show, indicated that there is very strong support for frequent and ongoing live performing arts productions in Meeker. Moreover the audience strongly favored the establishment of a performing and fine arts center venue as a cultural advantage for the youth and adults of the community. A number of patrons also indicated an interest in performing arts credit classes and enrichment seminars in such areas as acting methods, history of theatre, directing, technical theatre and production topics (e.g., lighting design, sound, makeup, costuming, hairstyles, makeup, scenery design and construction, rigging, and much more).
Some patrons favored the use of the old elementary school as the foundation for a performing arts and fine arts center with creatives studios for sculpture, painting, photography, film and video production, sound design, vocal and instrumental contemporary and classical music, museology and cultural studies and much more.
MACC is pursuing designation of the downtown Meeker area as a State of Colorado creative industries “creative district” which affords special eligibility and advantages for grants and cultural events hosted locally. As the fifth largest economic engine in Colorado, creative industries can bring economic advantages to the community in the form of tourism, employment associated with creatives, and spin-off benefits of patronage for local merchants and businesses throughout the year. Vanessa Trout is coordinating the creative district effort which will require a community-based coalition of special districts, local governments, businesses, creative artists, volunteer organizations, youth and adults pursuing a wide variety of arts and cultural opportunities.
MACC would like to thank our loyal patrons who attended the show, and the many friends, organizations, and businesses who supported the production, which includes, Shepherd’s Office Outfitters proprietors Chad and Jeanette Shepherd, Redi Services, Meeker High School and BMS Principal Jim Hanks, Rio Blanco Herald Times editor Bobby Gutierrez and graphics designer Tonya Morris, Rio Blanco County Historical Society President Ellene Meece and David Meece, Freeman Fairfield Community Center manager Bill Jordan, the Town of Meeker for use of the elementary school, MACC vice president Matt Holliday for the use of the sound system, KRAI Radio for promotion and tremendous appreciation goes to the dedicated cast and crew who provided the first rate talent that made this show a hit.
MACC invites and welcomes new youth and adult members to participate in all activities and events. The next MACC meeting will be held on Monday, Aug. 6, at 6:30 p.m. At the old elementary school gymnasium on Fifth and Park. For more information contact MACC President Gary Zellers at 878-0554 or e-mail deano65@hotmail.com.