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The Dickinson Press: Ode to the ole West: ‘Medora Musical’ returns

The Dickinson Press: Ode to the ole West: ‘Medora Musical’ returns

The following story by Jackie Jahfetson originally appeared in The Dickinson Press on June 16th, 2021:

With a little more than 90 minutes, a cast dazzled in rhinestone-western attire stand on stage and tell a romancing story of the Wild West, rehashing historical moments of Theodore Roosevelt’s old stomping grounds in the city of Medora.

The “Medora Musical” has returned to the Burning Hills Amphitheatre. Already more than six performances into the 2021 season, Director and Producer Curt Wollan noted that the show gets better each time the lights hit the stage.

“People love to come back because it’s so unique and different. There’s not a show like this anywhere in the country,” Curt Wollan said. “Maybe (there is) in Europe, but they don’t celebrate any political figures like Theodore Roosevelt… This is such a mixture of history (and) variety show and spectacle, and what they used to call ‘epic theater’ — which is when we do the charge of San Juan Hill. It’s huge. It’s stuff blowing up all over the place. So it’s so unique and it’s become such a tradition.”

Music is meshed with contemporary to older country, gospel, patriotic and North Dakota-themed songs. With the “Medora Musical” reining in its 56th year on stage, Curt Wollan said that it has changed due to the evolution of technology, making performances more slick and professional. Each year, the music changes, costumes are redesigned and sets vary. By incorporating a new theme with every summer show season, it allows for the musical to grow, he said. This year, the theme highlights the couples that settled in Medora and played a major role in making it the city that it is today.

“… People want to see what they like and they want to see some new stuff too. So the trick in all of this is trying to do a show (and) write a show that gives them a touch of everything — the charge of San Juan Hill, the patriotic finale, the fireworks, the horses, great Teddy quotes and speeches, singing, dancing, clogging and the great songs that have been written for this show in the past,” Curt Wollan said.

For an entire summer show season, Curt Wollan and his cast begin preparation already in the winter with script writing kicking off in January, followed by auditions — which all took place virtually this past audition season. Rehearsals are approximately one month long.

With his father being the director and producer of the show, Chet Wollan has been involved with the Medora Musical for 15 years along with his wife Candice Lively Wollan that’s returning to the stage for her 11th summer in Medora.

“I love that it’s different every year, so it makes it more interesting instead of a lot of the (other) places you go and you do the same show over and over again; it gets kind of boring. But out here, it’s got the same elephants… (yet) every year it’s got different songs and different people,” Chet Wollan said.

Being involved in the show is a way for the married couple actors to hone in on their craft, and coming back to Medora every summer is like a second home for the Wollans, who live a majority of the year at their home in Tennessee.

“Every year, with it being different, you get to shine in different ways. I don’t have the same solos every year, so that’s really nice to be able to do something different… Every year is a blessing,” Candice Lively Wollan said, who is a Burning Hills singer, company manager and dance captain.

Chet Wollan was a singer/dancer for nine years. Then six years ago, he hung up his dancing shoes to play the role of the host and spent four years alongside longtime entertainer Bill Sorenson. Now, Chet Wollan hosts the show with Annie Freres.

“I think people (will) take away that we’re doing a lot of history stuff this year (and) a lot of cool stories about a lot of different people that worked and lived out here. And actually how difficult it was back then to have the gumption to just do that,” Chet Wollan said.

What started back in 1965 is still relatable in today’s world, Curt Wollan noted.

“It’s a great escape. For a family taking a trip from Connecticut… on their way through Yellowstone, it’s super family-friendly. It’s a great stop on the way and with the park, fondue and all the interesting things to do here,” Curt Wollan said. “… (When) the buildings open up, revealing the Badlands, it’s so spectacular. You can’t paint that.”

For more information on the “Medora Musical” and to reserve tickets, visit medora.com/do/entertainment/medora-musical.

Virtual Auditions Announced for Casting of 2021 Medora Musical

Virtual auditions now open for the 56th edition of the Medora Musical.

(Medora, ND) StageWest Entertainment Inc. in conjunction with the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, is pleased to announce virtual auditions for the 2021 Season of the Medora Musical  which has now entertained over four million people since its first showing in 1965.

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The Capital Gallery West is Open!

The Capital Gallery West is Open!

The Capital Gallery West, presented by Starion Bank, is open in the Harold Schafer Heritage Center on 4th Street in downtown Medora.

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From TRNP

Theodore Roosevelt National Park to Begin Phased Access May 9, 2020

Medora, North Dakota – Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Public Health Service, and the North Dakota Department of Health, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is resuming visitor access for recreational day use of trails, picnic areas, roads and backcountry camping. The National Park Service (NPS) is working service-wide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and is using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

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Doris Slaaten’s Gift Will Fund Outdoor Commons

Our campus is growing. Our campus includes the Life Skills Center, Spirit of Work Volunteer headquarters, and Elkhorn Quarters Housing, and provides our seasonal employees a “home away from home,” tying together housing, dining, work, and volunteer facilities. Bill and Jane Marcil, Greg Butler and many other friends of TRMF have taken the lead in getting those facilities in place.

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TRMF Executive Team Looks To The Future

As TRMF President Randy Hatzenbuher moves into his new fundraising responsibilities for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation, Mike Beaudoin and our Executive Team will oversee all areas of our Foundation’s day-to-day operations. Mike’s joined on that team by these dedicated TRMF employees.

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Joe Wiegand Joins The TRMF Team

Joe Wiegand Joins The TRMF Team

Every summer since 2012, Joe Wiegand has performed as Theodore Roosevelt at Medora’s Old Town Hall Theater. Starting this fall, Joe joins the staff of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation as an Assistant to the President, Randy Hatzenbuhler.

Joe’s primary responsibilities will be fundraising for the TRMF. Joe will be headquartered in Medora, traveling throughout the Upper Midwest and venturing as far as Southern California, Arizona, and Florida in the winter, with the goal of growing philanthropic support for TRMF.

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All New for 2020: Junior Rough Riders!

All New for 2020: Junior Rough Riders!

Are you looking for a unique Christmas gift for that special child, grandchild, niece or nephew? Enlist them as Junior Rough Riders with the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation!

Junior Rough Riders receive a membership packet with a custom bandana to wear on their next Medora trip, an official membership certificate for framing, and a Teddy Roosevelt-themed bookmarker. Membership dues are $50. Junior Rough Riders are the future of Medora. They can go on to become summer employees, scholarship winners, join the ranks of the Rough Riders, and even become part of our army of summer volunteers, years down the road!

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2019 Christmas Tour Kicks Off With SOLD OUT Show!

2019 Christmas Tour Kicks Off With SOLD OUT Show!

The 2019 Magical Medora Christmas Tour hit the road on November 30 and opened the show with the largest opening crowd ever!

They traveled to Linton, Washburn, and Aberdeen and were greeted by full crowds ready to hear the sounds of Christmas performed by Medora favorites!

Get a sneak peek of the show below!

If that doesn’t get you in the Christmas spirit we don’t know what will!

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the support for the Magical Medora Christmas.” said Producer Bill Sorensen.

The tour will bring the sounds of Christmas to 23 communities across the Midwest this year! Performed by stars of Medora’s past and present!

Get Tickets to a Show Near You!

Stars of the Show

All the fun will be led by producer and star of the show, Bill Sorensen! He’ll bring magic and laughs to the tour as usual!

Back by popular demand, Queen of the West, Emily Walter! She’s been with the Magical Medora Christmas tour since it first started in 2015!

North Dakota native, Job Christenson, will also be back on tour! He’s a former Burning Hills Singer and host of the Medora Musical, and now a great fit in the Magical Medora Christmas tour!

Chad Willow is back on tour ticklin’ the keys, strummin’ the banjo, and adding vocals to the show!

New to this years Magical Medora Christmas tour is Kim Willow! The former Burning Hills Singer will join her husband Chad on this tour!

Also new to the cast is Travis Smith! He played piano and banjo in this year’s Medora Musical and will bring that talent on the road!

2018 Tjaden Educational Assistance Awards

Each year the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation awards nearly $30,000 in educations scholarships and ambassador awards funded by the Rod Tjaden Memorial Golf Tournament. Here are our 2018 recipients:

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