I’m not a movie critic. In fact, I usually disagree with movie critics. There was that guy years ago, Gene something or other, with the bushy hair and the ugly mustache. I think he was on NBC. If he liked a movie, I dang sure was going to skip it. Then there were those two guys; I forget their names that delved into the “meaning” of movies.
I don’t go to a movie for “meaning”. I go to enjoy the movie. I want to forget about cows, banks, weather, crops, and other things for a couple hours. If I want to get mad, I golf.
Yesterday, we went to the annual community theatre in Harding County. I wrote about their production a couple years ago, but dang, it is worthy of more.
We go to Rhame and head south past Table Mountain. A few miles past the mountain, turn west and keep turning west every chance you get. You’ll pass Ladner. You’ll pass more deer and antelope than people. You’ll pass vast sagebrush covered plains with cattle scattered for miles. You will pass ranches in the middle of lambing. You will be driving by some of the heartiest souls in the world. People that, as the saying goes, “you can ride the river with”.
When you reach Bullock Hall, the cars and pickups will be pulling in from all over. You have to reserve a seat. No walk-ins will fit. And I will guarantee you, they seat as many as they possibly can! It’s a little cramped for a big fat guy in a folding chair. But it is worth it.
The floor in the Quonset shaped building is hardwood. Newly sanded and polished. I felt guilty walking on it. But we passed friends and neighbors, shook hands with old friends, and made our way towards the front of the hall. I’m hard of hearing, so I get seats pretty close to the front.
The lights begin to flicker. As they slowly darken, the hall becomes silent. And the curtains suddenly open up to a puppet show! A dang sure real life puppet show! Singing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”! And you could feel the smiles and laughter overcome the crowd. All of a sudden, you knew that for a couple hours, those worries of cows and catastrophes were going to slip to the back of rancher’s minds. And those furrowed brows would relax for a bit.
Now, I recognized a few of the puppets from the Muppets, but there were a few more that looked pretty homemade. It was refreshing and wonderful!
The play this year was “Pillow Talk”. And the cast and production crew outdid themselves. The little stage was transformed into New York apartments. It was transformed into the ballroom at the St. Regis Hotel. It was street corner and a telephone operator’s office. It was fantastic.
And for a Sunday afternoon, barrel racers and breakaway ropers, ranchers, school teachers, grade and high school students, foreign exchange students, ranch hands from foreign countries, bronc riders, and others, became playboys, interior decorators, taxi drivers, jazz singers and players, telephone operators, maids, and high society residents of the City that never sleeps.
They had spent months rehearsing, building stage props, finding costumes, and getting ready for this production. No one could have done it better.
I don’t know if the play had any “meaning”. But I’ve been to movies that cost millions to produce, and never enjoyed one more.
For a few hours, Bullock Hall let us forget about news, controversy, and the problems we all face. We owe you!
Dean Meyer is a former legislator and ranches in southwest North Dakota. He has been a columnist around the state for years.