Posts in category Press Release

“Bully!” for North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation sees passage of Presidential Library funding as next great moment in history for the state


(MEDORA, ND) – In the early 1950s, Harold Schafer peered over the edge of the butte overlooking the tiny village of Medora and proclaimed, “There’s too much here to let disappear.” His son, Ed, standing by his side, took in the broken-down, old cow town with dirt streets and a ramshackle hotel named for Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, and thought to himself, “But—there’s nothing there!”    

Yet, this was the moment that North Dakota’s tourism industry was born.

Harold saw an opportunity to create something wonderful for generations to come. He didn’t have an eminently-detailed plan that considered every possible scenario, or a multi-page budget document projecting every income and expense, but he knew the legend of Theodore Roosevelt translated across the globe and that his ‘Bully Spirit’ could inspire millions.

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Bill Sorensen’s Final Ride

Long-time Medora entertainer to co-host the Medora Musical for a final time

(MEDORA, ND) Bill Sorensen is a household name around Medora, and this summer, you’ll get to see him on stage at the Medora Musical one last time, co-hosting for his final season alongside a star-studded cast.

“Medora has been a place of great importance to me. I watched my daughters grow up here, I myself have grown in this place with these people, and whether I’m performing for five people of 2,000 people I am always grateful for the experience,” remarks Bill.

Bill first stepped on stage as co-host in 2013 with Queen of the West, Emily Walter. One of his favorite memories of co-hosting came from him sharing the stage with Emily. One hot night they were performing a scene in which Emily shot his pants off and come to find out he had forgotten to wear his long johns underneath that night – he says he has never seen Emily laugh that hard while on stage.

Bill began a battle with cancer which removed him from the stage for the 2016 season but in 2017 he returned guns a blazin with a new co-host, Chet Wollan. He and Chet have a natural on stage chemistry that is the perfect mix of humorous and playful.

“Sometimes Chet gets this little glimmer in his eye and it reminds me of when he was a little kid and I just think to myself, here we go, we’re going off script,” Bill recalls.

While this is his last season in the Medora Musical, he plans to still be around this awesome little place in different roles. In 2015 he started the hit Magical Medora Christmas show that tours during the holiday season and this summer, he is opening a brand new attraction, “Perception: a Magical Slant House” for kids and families in Medora. Bill’s partner in this attraction is “High Diving Fool”, Don Otto. The two met many years ago when Don was a featured variety act in Medora and they have had the idea for this addition since.

“We both love illusions and tricking the brain and that is exactly what this experience will be. Showing people that their perception is the difference between the truth and what their mind is believing will make this attraction in Medora so much different than anything that already exists there,” says Bill.

Beyond his work in Medora, Bill has held some unique jobs such as his time spent managing boxing champion, Virgil Hill and working with folks like Don King. He founded the Bismarck Wizards Basketball team; and was the Mayor of Bismarck for 12 years.

Bill is excited for his final season as a co-host of the Medora Musical and looks forward to the ways he will continue impacting Medora in the future.

The full cast, band, and featured variety acts of the Medora Musical will be released next week.

Sheriff Bear Leaves Medora

Breaking News

In a twist of unforeseen events Sheriff Bear has announced his resignation from the Medora Musical. Sheriff Bear has been with the show since the early 2000 and is the longest recurring cast member to date.

Sheriff Bear being poked fun at by current Medora Musical host Chet Wollen.


Official Sheriff Bear translator, Ken Quiricone says that Sheriff Bear says, “After being passed up over and over for host of the Medora Musical and as a member of the clog I have decided to follow my dreams elsewhere.”

Sheriff Bear is heading to New York City to pursue his dreams of performing ballet and continuing his sheriff background as a horse mounted officer in Central Park.

Published April 1st – the most foolish day of them all!

2019 Medora Musical Auditions!

Auditions are coming up at the end of January, don’t miss your chance to star in the Greatest Show in the West, the Medora Musical! Performed live and outside 100 nights in a row this western musical complete with history, live animals, fireworks, and some good ‘ol downhome country music is a show unlike any other!

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A Magical Medora Christmas Tour Coming to 24 Communities Across the Region

Show returns for the fourth season, tickets on sale now

Medora, ND) – The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation announced today the return of fan-favorite show, A Magical Medora Christmas! This year the show will travel to four states performing 30 shows in 24 communities. A Magical Medora Christmas features past and present stars of the Medora Musical. Starring in this year’s tour is former host of the Medora Musical and “Queen of the West”, Emily Walter, Broadway stars Jared Mason, and Job Christenson, musician Chad Willow, and the host of the show, Bill Sorensen bringing the spirit of Christmas to audiences through his gift of humor, magic and love. READ MORE »

First Ever “Medora Wish” to be Granted

Brand new endowment will help more families enjoy Historic Medora, funds first trip for recipient John Wright 

 

The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation is wonderfully-pleased to announce the first ever recipient of a fully sponsored trip to Medora, John Wright, will experience the Badlands and more this weekend, August 31 – September 2, thanks to a new fund created by TRMF supporters called The Medora Wish Endowment.

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“Cowboy Lyle” Glass Has Passed Away

Medora says good bye to a Badlands icon

 

(Medora, ND) – The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF) is sad to announce the passing of Cowboy Lyle Glass. He was 67.

 

Memorial details will be forthcoming as family and friends are notified of the passing of our adored Cowboy Lyle.

 

Lyle was born June 22, 1951. He left his hometown of Crookston, Minnesota in 1973 for the Badlands of North Dakota — and a small tourist town called Medora.

 

Lyle quickly established himself as a hardworking Horse Wrangler at the Medora Riding Stables and an indispensable part of the Medora Division of Gold Seal Company, and later, the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation family.

 

Lyle’s years of service to Medora and TRMF are highlighted by over 2,000 ghost rides in the Medora Musical — a  featured scene he made famous by descending a steep butte on horseback, guided only by a spotlight.

 

After suffering a life-threatening aneurysm in 2010, Lyle dismounted from his Medora Trail Riding horse but his presence in Medora only grew.

 

For guests to town, Lyle was the iconic presence you saw and felt everywhere — whether he was helping the Boy Scouts raise the colors of our nation, trotting through town atop his horse, Chocolate, or greeting families as they stepped off the escalator at the Medora Musical.

 

Today, thousands of people, from all corners of the nation, will forever remember him through personal pictures of their kids, their family, with the one and only, the iconic, Cowboy Lyle Glass.

 

Lyle was also a renowned wildlife photographer and expert on the horses that roam Theodore Roosevelt National Park, previously received a Governor’s Award as the Top Frontline Tourism Employee in North Dakota, and even had a candy store named for him in downtown Medora.

 

Lyle will be missed. We’ll remember him for his warm spirit, gentle ways, 45 years of service to the visitors of the Badlands and his unyielding love for Medora.

 

High-resolution photos of Cowboy Lyle Glass can be found here.

Photos of his photographic work can be seen here.

Inspired Women Magazine to host Elevate Conference in Medora Sept. 6 & 7

 

 

 

 

 

Medora Musical Variety Acts Selected, Kat Perkins Camp and Concert Return, Summer Concerts Announced

Four variety acts, three concerts and two music festivals bring world-class, nationally known entertainment to Medora and the Burning Hills Amphitheatre.

 

(Medora, ND) – The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF) is excited to announce the 2018 Medora Musical Variety Acts and summer concert lineup.

 

The 2018 Medora Musical will feature a new, “family” theme used to tell the story of Theodore Roosevelt and the American West. This year’s Featured Variety Acts will follow right along with that theme – bringing great, family-friendly variety entertainment to the second half of each night’s Medora Musical.

 

Three comedians — including notable returner, Kermit Apio — will be joined by a renowned jump rope acrobatic stunt team, Flight Crew — who received rave reviews and standing ovations during their time in Medora in 2016.

 

Guests can see the Medora Musical Featured Variety Acts during the dates below:

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2018 Cast of the Medora Musical

(Medora, ND) – The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF), in conjunction with StageWest Entertainment, is excited to announce the cast of the 2018 Medora Musical and that the Show’s theme will be about “family.”

 

Over four million people have seen the Medora Musical since first opening in 1965 – many visitors from around the region make it a family tradition to see the show each year.

 

However, the family tradition extends further than the guests who flock to the Burning Hills Amphitheatre each summer.

 

Back for his third year as Host of the Medora Musical, Chet Wollan grew up on the Badlands stage – first watching his father, Curt Wollan, produce the show (1987-2018) before joining the production for the first time as a four-year old doing rope tricks with Montie Montana.

 

Chet has grown into his role as host and again leads a very talented, professional cast in this year’s Medora Musical.

 

Curt, for his part, remembers his early years in Medora fondly, saying, “Little did I know that answering an ad in 1977 would have led to meeting my wife, Jane, and to the honor of fathering two very talented Burning Hills Singers — Chet and his sister, Lexie Wollan-Swenson.

 

“I love this show. It is so fun coming back to it year after year to tell timeless tales about Teddy Roosevelt, the Badlands and family values in compelling new ways.”

 

Former Bismarck Mayor, Bill Sorensen, will join Chet Wollan as co-host after a successful, four-state tour of A Magical Medora Christmas.

 

This will be Bill’s second season back as a kind of grandfatherly figure, helping his co-host tell the story of the Badlands and Medora.

 

Between Chet and Bill, this year’s show is sure to include a great mix of fan-favorite moments and humor – some scripted and others, well, not so much.

 

Each year some of the top stage talent in North Dakota audition for the Medora Musical. The competition is stiff and those selected compete against talent recruited from across the nation.

 

This year, three North Dakotans made the cast and are returning: Misti Koop, of Grand Forks; Taylor Leet, of Bismarck; and Alyssa Scott of Fargo. 

 

Koop and Leet pursued passion projects during the winter, while Scott and her boyfriend, Medora Musical lead guitarist, Adam Vogel, have been performing and recording in Nashville, TN.


Vocal powerhouse and veteran performer, Candice Lively-Wolllan, joins the cast and her husband, Chet, this year as well. Candice and Chet just finished performing in a National Tour of Ring of Fire together.


The comical and ever animated, Ken Quiricone, will return in his “comedic side-kick role” for his 7th year after performance stints in Atlanta, GA, and Pennsylvania.


Fans will be happy to know that six-year veteran of the Show, Kevin Korczynski, will be returning after working in Florida and Illinois.


Kevin had this to say about his return to the stage of the Medora Musical, “A large part of returning was simply missing Medora. It’s a one-of-a-kind professional contract and I missed the electricity on that epic stage.


“I also missed the people, onstage and off. Co-workers, friends for life, Medora family, and fans it’s all a huge part of every summer story. The joy on-stage and off makes for such a gratifying return.”


Other veteran professionals returning for 2018 include:

Jessica Bradish, whose professional credits include a National Tour in Pump Boys and Dinettes.


Christie Robinson — who’s one half of Medora’s newest Kids Show, Carl and Greta’s Cowboy Sing Along with returning Medora Musical band leader, Andrew Crowe.

 

And Dusin LaFleur, who has worked at the Crossroads Repertory and Grandstreet Theatres.

 

The three new Burning Hills Singers are Ben Massouras, John Woodruff and Benjamin Frankart. 

While over one thousand performers auditioned for the show at locations in North Dakota, Minnesota, Florida and Tennessee this year, for TRMF communications director, Justin Fisk, a cast full of returners is fitting with this year’s “Family” theme.


“Really, the theme can be traced directly to the people who come to the show – the Medora Musical has been a family tradition, for visitors and staff, since Harold and Sheila Schafer started the show in 1965. Today, you see families all summer long with two, three, even four generations coming together.


It seems like fate, too, for our production team to build the show around this theme, and then for the cast to come together in a way that almost feels like a big family reunion – albeit a really musically talented one!”


Fisk concluded, “It will be fun and exciting to see how such an epic story of TR and the Badlands can be told with the family theme, with such a talented cast who are themselves a lot like a family.”

Lead Roles of the Medora Musical

  • Chet Wollan  –  Host  –  “Cowboy Chet”
    Strawberry Plains, TN, by way of St. Anthony, MN — returning
  • Bill Sorensen  –  Co-Host  –  “Wild West Prestidigitator”
    Bismarck, ND — returning
  • Candice Lively-Wollan  –  Burning Hills Singer/Co-Host
    Strawberry Plains, TN — returning
  • Ken Quiricone  –  Burning Hills Singer/Co-Host
    Stratford, CT — returning
Burning Hills Singers
  • Jessica Bradish                   Des Moines, IA — returning
  • Benjamin Frankart              Republic, OH
  • Kevin Korczynski                 Bel Air, MD — returning
  • Misti Koop                           Grand Forks, ND – returning
  • Dustin LaFleur                     Lafayette, LA — returning
  • Taylor Leet                           Bismarck, ND — returning
  • Ben Massouras                   Phoenix, AZ
  • Christie Robinson                Bucksport, ME — returning
  • Alyssa Scott                         Fargo, ND — returning
  • Jon Woodruff                        White Bear Lake, MN
 Coal Diggers Band
  • Andrew Crowe, Fiddle           Franklinton, NC — returning
  • Brandon Fillette, Piano          Weddington, NC — returning
  • Junior Mercer, Steel Guitar    Sevierville, TN
  • Perry Orfanella, Bass            Carmel, NY — returning
  • Barry Smith, Drummer           Orlando, FL
  • Adam Vogel, Guitar                Melrose, MN — returning

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