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Western went from page to screen to stage

In keeping with their theme of staging major crowd-pleasers, Camelot Theatre will launch its new season on Wednesday, Feb. 7, with "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," a 2014 stage version of the famous 1962 American Western that was directed by John Ford and starred Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne. The film itself originated from a short story by Dorothy M. Johnson, the author whose work took off in the 1930s when she started writing Western fiction for the Saturday Evening Post. Camelot will mount the production beginning at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the theater, which is at 101 Talent Ave. in Talent.

"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" is set in a small frontier town called Shinbone in a Western state that remains unnamed. A prominent United States Senator, Ransome Foster returns to this small town to bury an old and close friend, Tom Doniphon. In the process, he is tracked down by an unrelenting young reporter who asks him why a distinguished politician might travel so far in order to attend the funeral of a relatively unknown man. As a result of the tenacity of the reporter, Foster opens up about his history with the town, and talks about how he was the man who stood up to a legendary local thug by the name of Liberty Valance. So begins a fascinating story of the Old West which is sure to be riveting for fans of classic Westerns.

Primary roles in the show will be filled by Alex Boyles as Foster, Courtney Crawford as Hallie Jackson, and Bruno Marcotulli as Liberty Valance. Boyles is a prominent regional performer who has a strong history in the Valley that has included roles as Professor Bhaer in "Little Women" (Randall Theatre); Dr. Everett Scott in "The Rocky Horror Show" (Cabaret Theatre); "Leading Ladies," "Jacques Brel," and "Snow Queen" (CTP); "Spotlight on Billy Joel," "La Cage Aux Folles" and "Sweet Charity" (Camelot); "Chess" (LGP); and "Next to Normal" (Next Stage). He also understudied for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2014 and 2015. He holds an MFA in Theatre from Ohio State University.

Crawford is a Rogue Valley native who is in her fifth show at Camelot, and has been well received in all of her performances there thus far. She has also taken roles that have included Jo March in "Little Women" (Randall Theatre); Molly Jensen in "Ghost:  The Musical" (Camelot); and Maggie in "A Chorus Line" (Randall Theatre). In addition, Crawford will understudy for the Oregon Cabaret Theatre this season in "Million Dollar Quartet" under the watchful eyes of Rick Robinson and Valerie Rachelle.

Mr. Marcotulli grew up in Los Angeles and began his acting career after graduating from Loyola Marymount University in L.A. He has since starred in numerous international television shows, including such 1980s classics as "Dallas," "Murder She Wrote," "MacGyver," "Jag," "Baywatch," "Columbo," "Mike Hammer," and "Days of Our Lives." He has worked across from Leslie Nielsen and others in a range of different films and now joins Camelot as a seasoned thespian.

"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" is directed by Olivia Harrison, another strong presence at the Camelot Theatre who received her BA in Theater from Southern Oregon University in 2016 before taking on multiple responsibilities at the facility, including work as a director, stage manager, prop master and production assistant — as well as on the stage as an actor, singer and dancer. Most recently, she was seen onstage at Camelot in "La Cage Aux Folles" and "Sweet Charity" in 2016. She also directed "Ghost: The Musical" (with Crawford in the lead) in 2017 and the smash-hit "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" starring Erik Connolly and Eoghan McDowell in the previous year.

— Ashland resident Jeffrey Gillespie is a Daily Tidings columnist, arts reviewer and freelance writer. Email him at gillespie.jeffrey@gmail.com.