The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance opens Friday, July 7th!

The harsh reality of frontier life. A love triangle that echoes the Arthurian myth. Education and progress vs. a gritty status quo. Humor, hope, and idealism. Gunfights in a saloon with an imposing outlaw. The last show of Prospect Theater Project’s 2016-17 season has a little something for everyone.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance by Jethro Compton will be a familiar title to some: in 1953, it was a short story by Dorothy M. Johnson, and in 1962, it was a John Ford film starring John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. Compton’s adaptation is a new incarnation of this beloved tale, reimagined and redeveloped for the stage, bringing together aspects of the short story and the film that followed.

Compton’s play captures the stark nature of America’s western frontier and the necessary resilience and determination required to survive and thrive in that harsh landscape. Although the play’s action is restricted to Hallie Jackson’s saloon, the Prairie Belle, Compton’s script allows audiences to vividly envision the whole town of Twotrees and its surrounding geography. It is to Twotrees and this rugged environment that educated East Coaster Ransome Foster travels to, only to be descended upon by notorious outlaw Liberty Valance. Left for dead by Valance, Foster is rescued by Bert Barricune, a gritty gunslinger with a heart of gold, who drags Foster to the Prairie Belle, where proprietress Hallie Jackson refuses Barricune’s flirtation and Foster’s presence in one breath.

It is only when Foster meets Jim ‘The Reverend’ Mosten and, realizing the profundity of Mosten’s intellect, promises to help Mosten learn to read—an unprecedented gesture for a white man to make towards a black man—that Miss Jackson relents and allows Foster to stay.
But that is only just the beginning of the play’s unfolding series of events. Foster’s arrival in Twotrees is a harbinger of change for the residents of this little border town, and each character has their own point of view as to just what that change means for them. The story as retold by Compton bears hallmarks of the hero’s journey—a man in search of something greater than himself, who goes out into the wide world, only to be met by trials and allies who shape his path—but it also has threads of the great Arthurian love triangle throughout, featuring a strong, independent woman who transforms the lives of the two men who love her.

Prospect’s production of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance features PTP favorites Joel Eddington-Morrison as Ransome Foster and Michael Hewitt as Marshal Johnson, as well as the brilliant talents of Melissa Dawn as Hallie Jackson and Adam Torrian as Jim ‘The Reverend’ Mosten. Joining the cast for his PTP debut is the delightful Jim Kocher, who has starred in numerous shows at Playhouse Merced. The titular character of Liberty Valance is played by Eric Watkins, recently returned to the Central Valley from UCLA. Jordan Sanchez plays double duty, acting both as Narrator and as reporter Jake Dowitt. Rounding out the cast are Scott Davis, Nestor Cervantes, and Ryan Holloway. Prospect’s Founding Artistic Director Jack Souza directs this final show of the season, as well as designing and building the sets and creating the lighting design.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance opens on Friday, July 7 and runs through July 23. Performance dates and times are July 7, 8, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22 at 8:00pm and July 9, 16, 23 at 2:00pm. Tickets are $20 general admission/$10 students, and can be purchased in advance online or through the box office.

BOX OFFICE: open Wednesdays, 12-2pm, & one hour prior to show time.
Call 209-549-9341 or stop by!



Posted in: news

About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.