2022 TEXAS Outdoor Musical


2022 TEXAS Outdoor Musical 

TEXAS the Outdoor Musical and I are the same age.  It was first performed in the year I was born: 1966.  For some reason, I have always found that kind of gives me an affinity for the play.  There are a lot more reasons I find myself enjoying the play year after year.  As someone with a deep appreciation of the history of the panhandle it does two things.  One, the play is a magical entertaining view of many of the events that happened in the history of the Panhandle of Texas and references many historical facts and characters.  It seems almost yearly I find myself going, "hmph, I didn't notice that before."  Odd how you can see something over and over and still not see the whole of it.  And as the official photographer of the play, I try to notice every detail.

The 6 Flags of Texas!

This year was different for me in several ways.  For one, I was the featured artists.  Each year since the play started, they have featured a local artist in the program.  Never has it been a photographer.  This was one of the greatest honors of my life.  Another thing, the play was different.  The script was changed in major and subtle ways.  I really like the changes, but some people don't.  Such is life.

One of the differences happens right after the opening dance scene.  Calvin and his family visit his mother's grave and he promise to return to Texas. This is well done and very dramatic.  The early settlers faced death regularly.  We take much for granted.

One familiar Face I was so glad to see was Tucker Yelldale.  He is the comedy sage of the play, spouting Shakespear.  I have thought to myself, a play could be made just on Tucker's character.

The iconic scenes remain intact such as the scene of the girls of the play talking about the boys of the play and the bunkhouse scene.


And the boys talking about woman in the bunkhouse.  Both scenes are favorites.

The first time I saw the play since my childhood (it is that old that I saw it in my teens now being 56) I really didn't expect to enjoy it.  I have never really like musicals to be honest.  Momma made sure we saw Oklahoma, Westside story etc.  And I slept.  BUT TEXAS isn't just a musical it is a marvelous story as well and one the embodies so much of the struggle to settle this part of the world.  It is in a real way OUR story (those who live in the panhandle of Texas.)


If you ask people who have seen the play years ago and not recently, what they remember, invariably people mention two things.  They either tell you the lightning bolt made them jump out of their seats or the Rider on the Rim at the beginning of the play gave them chill bumps.

Did you know the "bounce" as it is called in the play, has been even performed at the Rose Bowl Parade?  


I am old and I have photographed a lot of performances and things that are not easy to capture with the camera.  One of the absolute hardest things for me to capture well is the "Fire Ballet".  Today, non-farmers, don't give grass fires much thought, after all they are often put out quickly.  Every few years one will get loose but burn 100s even 1000s of acres but for the earliest settlers, prairie fires were one of the most feared events.  There was hardly no escape.  This is artfully immortalized in TEXAS with a ballet where the dancers represent the fire.

The light is lower and given a red hue and the dancers are moving fast.  Low colored light, fast movement.  Well, I don't know of anything harder to catch in one frame.  AND... I love trying because when I catch that great photo, I feel a bit like I caught lightning in a bottle.


One change that I am sad and happy about at the same time is the ending.  There is no more fireworks.  I am sad, who doesn't like fireworks but at the same time I love Palo Duro Canyon and fireworks always have a risk in the summer with the dry weather, so I totally support and understand the decision to end the fireworks.  BUT the end is just as amazing with new effects in the laser light show and dancing.  It really is a visual stunner.


If you hadn't seen TEXAS or you didn't see it last year, please make plans to see it.  It is amazing and so worth adding to your bucket list.  Not only is it one of the best plays and musicals in America as has stood the test of time (56 years) but it is one of America's most beautiful parks:  Palo Dur Canyon State Parks just outside of Amarillo.

It is the second largest canyon in America and embodies the history of the Native America and cowboy old west.  Purely beautiful. People from all over the world come to see the play and the canyon.