AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — TEXAS the Outdoor Musical is hosted in the Pioneer Amphitheater, located within the Palo Duro Canyon. Every summer, between the months of June and mid-August, the musical hosts over sixty performances.
“This story tells the story of Texas. So really just create this community and at the meet and greet afterwards, you know, people are very adamant about how much it does mean to them being from Texas,” said performer, Emily Keleher.
After auditioning for TEXAS, Keleher moved across the country from New York to the Texas Panhandle to be a part of the production.
The musical, that is now on many bucket lists, however, started off as a dream in the 1960s.
“Oh, it was a dream of Margaret Harper, a lady back in the early ’60s, and she saw an article about outdoor symphonic drums back in North Carolina. And she said I want one of those in the Palo Duro Canyon.” explained Managing Artistic Director, David Yirak.
Yirak continued to share that while people doubted her, four years later, there was an outdoor drama in the Palo Duro Canyon.
This year, TEXAS the Outdoor Musical is taking on its’ 55th season.
As mentioned before, not just anyone can join the production. There is an auditioning process. However, due to the pandemic, this year’s auditions were virtual. However, Yirak shared that in a normal season, auditions are held in Canyon, TX, Central Oklahoma, and other locations.
“Then we go to a huge audition called Southeast Theatre Conference, which it moves around and we see probably 800 kids in three days there. So when we’re, when everything’s said and done, we see about 1,000 young people audition,” said Yirak.
Another fortunate individual to receive an invitation to join the production as a dancer was Andrew Sizco. The 2021 season is his second season with TEXAS, as he was a dancer for the musical in 2019.
“Just to come back here and run out on the stage every single night and see hundreds of smiling faces. To finally see live entertainment, again, is so rewarding, and it reminds me why I’m here and why I chose to do this,” stated Sizco. In fact, he shared that once presented with the opportunity to join the production again, there was no hesitation with his answer.
The dancer shared, “This opportunity came up again for this year and I took it as fast as I could.”
Mastering a detailed production like TEXAS does not happen overnight. Sizco shared that the rehearsal process entailed, “By the first week, you have fully blocked Act One, and by the second week, you fully have blocked the entire show, and the rehearsals are from one to ten every single day for three weeks straight.”
There is no question, though, that the final product is more than worth the hard work and time put in.
“It’s the most rewarding feeling ever and you just, you’re reminded you’re like, this is what I’m doing. I’m getting to showcase my craft and see how it impacts others,” said Sizco.
Kelleher shared this passion by stating, “I think conveying the storyline through Texas is really important, because the story does tell the culture and history of Texas. So I think connecting with the audience through the storyline is probably the most important thing.”
Kelleher continued to encourage the public to come by the Pioneer Amphitheater to catch a show. She added, “Come to see TEXAS. If not for like the spectacle, horses, and the fireworks, come for the casting crew because they’re truly lovely people.”
Tickets for TEXAS the Outdoor Musical range in price, anywhere from $22.85 to $38.85.