Live theater returns to Centennial

After a hiatus of several years, live theater has returned to Centennial.

A new theater group called the Hanging Lake Players, led by artistic director Bliss Ragsdale, is producing “The Return of Cal Howard,” scheduled to open at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Nici Self Historical Museum.

The production is set to run at 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Aug. 20.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors, active military and children younger than 12. Tickets are available only at the door.

Ragsdale described the production as summer stock-style theater, when companies perform only in the summer, often outdoors or in temporary accommodations. The Hanging Lake Players will be performing in a tent outside the museum, which sits on the south side of Wyoming Highway 130.

“We have a big tent, and we’ve turned it into an old-school opera tent, and we’ll put the show on inside of it, so it should be a lot of fun,” he said.

Ragsdale wrote “The Return of Cal Howard” and described it as a comedy with music and a touch of fantasy. The production is appropriate for all ages.

“The storyline has a little substance to it, so it’s not all slapstick comedy,” he said.

The cast includes several local actors and students, as well as an actor Ragsdale brought in from Michigan.

“My goal in the future is to bring more actors in from outside the area,” he said. “It’s a good experience for college kids to go work in these small theaters.”

Ragsdale, a longtime theater professional who attended the University of Wyoming, ran a theater company in Centennial about 10 years ago. The time seemed right to revive the effort, he said.

The group’s namesake Hanging Lake sits a couple miles west of Centennial between the Snowy Range Ski and Recreation Area and Highway 130.

“I was getting a hankering to do a show again, and I’ve always wanted to do the summer stock format in Centennial,” he said. “I think it’s a great town for it. Lots of little towns in Montana and Colorado have these little theaters.”

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