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Stampede Celebrates 50th Anniversary With “The Music Man”

Stampede Celebrates 50th Anniversary With “The Music Man”

Members of the Stampede Troupe cast perform during a dress rehearsal of The Music Man at the Union Colony Civic Center Tuesday night. (Stephanie Burchett/For the Tribune)

Grab your trombones, maybe 76 of them, and get ready to travel back to 1912, to the fictional town of River City, Iowa, where Harold Hill and his con tricks appeared.

Stampede Troupe will entertain audiences with the classic musical “The Music Man” for five performances, beginning Friday at the Monfort Concert Hall in the Union Colony Civic Center, 701 10th Ave., Greeley. The Troupe, a Greeley theater company, will celebrate its 50th anniversary with this production.

“Everyone is so excited,” said Tylene Gagnon, the show’s producer. “We’re ready to get on stage and show all our work to the audience. Without an audience, there’s no fun. The audience gives the cast so much energy during every show.”

The musical, written by Iowan Meredith Wilson, debuted on Broadway in 1957. More than 65 years later, the music and storyline continue to entertain audiences.

“It’s a classic American story,” Gagnon said.

Members of the Stampede Troupe cast perform during a dress rehearsal of The Music Man at the Union Colony Civic Center Tuesday night. (Stephanie Burchett/For the Tribune)

The story follows Hill, played by John Sosna, who wanders into a small town and quickly convinces the townspeople to start a band and buy all of their uniforms and instruments from him. However, he doesn’t intend to stay in the town for long until he meets the local librarian Marian Paroo, played by Nicole Harwell. Paroo suspects that Hill is not who he says he is and has a feeling that his intentions are not the best.

Gagnon, who has been a member of the troupe since 2003, was in the audience for the troupe’s first production, “Annie Get Your Gun,” which was performed in June 1974 at Greeley Central High School, where the troupe got its start.

Greeley Central teachers Harold Hamler and Jim DeMersseman, along with local artist Kent Smith, founded the troupe that same year after noticing a lack of opportunities in the community for pre-school-age singers, dancers, actors and musicians.

Gagnon recalled without a hitch where the principal actors were standing and what they were wearing when they sang “Anything You Can Do” from Annie Get Your Gun.

Although that moment didn’t prompt Gagnon to pursue a life as an actress, her ability to keep things organized was an important quality the troupe was looking for 20 years ago, she said. Since joining, she’s risen through the ranks to become a producer on all shows.

In addition to seeing the principal actors in that performance 50 years ago, Gagnon also saw Charles Rosales perform on stage that June day. Rosales, who plays Mayor George Shinn in the upcoming production, was a young actor at the time.

Members of the Stampede Troupe cast perform during a dress rehearsal of The Music Man at the Union Colony Civic Center Tuesday night. (Stephanie Burchett/For the Tribune)

Rosales has since appeared in other shows. Gagnon gushed about Rosales and how incredible it was that someone who was in the original production was also in the 50th anniversary production. Barb Gilliam, who is part of the sewing crew, agreed.

Gilliam has been with Troupe for more than a decade. Costumes for the shows come from donations, thrift stores and creativity. In all, 100 cast and crew members are involved in the production.

Gilliam’s favorite dress, which she made for the show, was made from the material of a friend’s patio umbrellas, and the material was just sun-kissed enough to be the right color for the show.

Gognon said that in community theater, nothing is wasted.

“You have to use what you have, but you also have to have the imagination to go beyond what you see,” she said.

Gagnon praised Gilliam’s imagination, which allowed her to turn literally anything into a costume or prop.

Members of the Stampede Troupe cast perform during a dress rehearsal of The Music Man at the Union Colony Civic Center Tuesday night. (Stephanie Burchett/For the Tribune)

Viewers can see all the hard work and costumes at 7pm on Friday, Saturday and July 20. There will also be shows at 2pm on July 20-21.

Gagnon stressed that it is extremely important to purchase tickets only through ucstars.com.

Some sites claim to have tickets to the show for more than $1,000. That price is a rip-off for a community theater show, but some people believe it’s real, she said.

Gagnon said if you pay more than $32.50 for a ticket, you are either a victim of fraud or paying too much.

For more information about the Stampede team, visit stampedetroupe.com/home.