Texas (musical)

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TEXAS is a stage musical produced annually by the Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation at the outdoor Pioneer Amphitheater in Palo Duro Canyon outside of Canyon, Texas. The show's 49th (2014) season dates are May 31 through August 16 and the show is performed every Tuesday through Sunday. Occasionally, other shows will be scheduled on Mondays throughout the summer.

This family-friendly show is set against an authentic tapestry of history and the show's fictional characters bring to life the stories, struggles and triumphs of the settlers of the Texas Panhandle in the 1800s. Some of the shows highlights include spellbinding lighting and special fire and water effects, including the Dancing Waters of TEXAS! Also available are a behind-the-scenes look with the backstage tour and a chuck-wagon barbecue dinner catered by Feldman's Wrong Way Diner. The experience will get you right in the TEXAS spirit! "We invite you all to come to TEXAS!"


Calvin Armstrong - a young homesteader (the actor who originated role was Eddy Thomas, now of Dallas)
Henry McLean - a wealthy rancher
Elsie McLean - a visitor from the east, Uncle Henry's niece
Anna McLean - Uncle Henry's wife
Dave Newberry - the foreman on Uncle Henry's ranch (originated by Dean Kelly of Amarillo TX)
Tucker Yelldell - a Southern Gentleman turned gold prospector (originated by Jerry Williams [deceased] of Canyon TX)
Kate Lucas - once an entertainer
Parmalee Flynn - a neighbor's daughter
Flip Saunders - cowboy
Dude Forbes - cowboy
Abel Tatum - a homesteader
Rachel Tatum - Abel's wife
Quannah Parker - the last Chief of the Comanches


Act 1:
The Watering Hole
Calvin's Farm and Dugout
Girl's Dressing Room
Cowboy's Bunk House
Colonel Henry's Ranch
Palo Duro Canyon

Act 2:
Colonel Henry's Ranch
A Gulch on Calvin's Farm
Colonel Henry's Porch
Kate's Wash Tub
Calvin's Dugout
Parlor of Colonel Henry's Ranch
Elsie's Boarding House in St. Louis
The Town of Henrianna Grand Finale

The Plot[edit]

The musical drama is centered around events loosely based in Texas history. The story's main character is that of Calvin Armstrong, a young homesteader from the east who wants to make it as a farmer in the Texas Panhandle. Uncle Henry is a wealthy rancher who is buying land and fencing it off for his cattle in order to be able to drive the cattle back east. Elsie McClain, Uncle Henry's niece, is Calvin's love interest. Tucker Yelldale, a gold prospector in the Texas Panhandle in search of wealth of the wrong color, serves as a comic relief.

The story begins with the rider on the rim, a cowboy with the Texas flag in hand, riding across the rim at full speed 5 feet from the edge of the 800 foot cliffside. The show kicks off with dancing and singing of old Texas favorites. Uncle Henry introduces the characters and provides a brief historical backdrop to the story.


“TEXAS” was born in 1960 when Margaret Harper read an article in Reader’s Digest about a playwright and author named Paul Green. Mr. Green had recreated the history of several regions about the nation in tremendous dramas with pageantry and music. Mrs. Harper wrote to Paul Green at his home in North Carolina and began corresponding with him about the land, people, and beauty of Palo Duro Canyon. As she reached out to friends and colleagues in Canyon, interest in the prospect of an outdoor theater began to grow, and soon a small group of Canyon families funded the first trip for Paul Green to come to the Panhandle later that year. According to those in attendance that first meeting, Mr. Green immediately dedicated himself to the project of bringing the history of the High Plains to the stage.

The music, dancing/choreography, and direction of the production came from various departments of nearby West Texas State College (now West Texas A&M University). Many - perhaps most - of the early performers were students at the college, and its director for many years, Margaret Moore, was director of its Branding Iron Theatre.

The amphitheater opened in 1962, performing the western show Fandangle. Texas first came to the theater in 1966, and a version of the show has been performed every year since.

Starting in 2001, the show was edited to make a more historically accurate performance and to revitalize the slumping attendance. In 2003, a new script, known as Texas Legacies premiered in 2003 and ran through the show's 40th anniversary in 2005. In 2006, "TEXAS Musical Drama" returned to the Pioneer Amphitheater by popular demand.

The show is produced by Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation .

Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation[edit]

The Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation is a nonprofit organization and is governed by an all volunteer Board of Directors who give their time, energy, money and expertise for the sake of preserving the Texas panhandle history through theatre. Families and individuals across the Panhandle and the nation give generously to help make this great educational and historical project a reality each season.

Significant opportunities exist to support the goals of the foundation. As well as an evening of fine entertainment, “TEXAS” is an ongoing theater laboratory educating fine young performers and technicians from across America.

Other Shows[edit]

TEXAS The Outdoor Musical Drama is not the only show seen during the summer months. The TEXAS cast also performs the highly recognizable hits from Shakespeare, as well as their original performances in the end of the season hit, "TEXAS Originals."

Shakespeare in the Canyon

TEXAS Originals

2013 tragedy[edit]

Five members of the Texas cast were killed in an automobile accident north of Amarillo shortly before midnight on August 12, 2013, as they were returning from a cast party held south of Dumas. The musical is not presented on Monday evenings. The August 13 performance was cancelled in light of the deaths. The musical was expected to resume for the one remaining week of the seasonal schedule. Those killed were Clinton Diaz, the 20-year-old driver of the Ford Taurus, who was from Amarillo; Andrew Duncan of Wichita Falls; Amanda Starz of Timonium, Maryland; Julian Arredondo of Haltom City, Texas, and Eric Harrison of Fort Worth. Injured were Timothy Johnson of Portland, Oregon, and Theron Arthur McSay of Fort Collins, Colorado. Clinton Diaz struck McSay's tractor-trailer rig as Diaz was turning from Farm-to-Market 119 onto U.S. Highway 287. The Texas Department of Public Safety said that alcohol was a factor in the crash.[1]

The host of the cast party, Joe Batson, a general consultant to the musical, and of Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation along with the foundation itself was undergoing legal issues with the lone survivors family but those were later dropped due to the survivors love for show and knowing it was only the fault of actions taken. That survivor, Timothy Johnson will be back out at the show this upcoming summer to help with choreography. Now a known term taken seriously by members of that year's cast, and the cast of the show's past, is 12 seconds left.

12 seconds left[edit]

12 seconds left is a well known term now by the cast and crew of Texas, to the people who come in new every year, and to the show's past. The term comes from the story that of one of the cast members who was killed in the 2013 tragedy, Jullian Arredondo. The story goes that one night during the show it was almost the very end of the show, and it was raining very hard. Then all of a sudden they stopped the show and sent everybody off the stage. Then Julian said, " What was that! We literally had 12 seconds left! " Now after the tragedy, all company members keep those words as a reminder that even when there are difficult times and it feels like you can't make it through, just to keep in mind that there are only 12 seconds left, and you can make it.


  1. ^ "DPS releases names of 'Texas' cast, crew killed in Dumas wreck: Troopers say alcohol was a factor in crash". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved August 14, 2013. 

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