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Walkin’ the Floor With You

Wild West goes Broadway in The Silver Spur Saloon

Just because you’re done with the past doesn’t mean the past is done with you. This is especially the case when it comes to love, as saloon manager Rose Waters  (Amanda Lawrence) learns in The Silver Spur Saloon, the inaugural production by the Phoinix Players at their newly opened Red Cane Theatre.

Written and directed by founder Mary Huls, The Silver Spurs Saloon showcases the bright young talent of the Phoinix Players. An old-fashioned Broadway musical featuring an array of lively song-and-dance numbers, the show is a comic exploration of what happens when people try to move on from relationships gone awry.

Rising stars Amanda and Austin Lawrence share a chemistry that is contagious, as they crash into one another time and again amidst a backdrop of Western bar life and country sensibilities. Austin’s character, Dusty Flint, was once engaged to Rose; then, one night in a drunken stupor, Dusty fell into the arms of local honeypot Nelly Gold (Emmy Romer) and found himself in a compromising situation. 

Actually, it was Rose herself who found Dusty in that situation and, heartbroken, she called off the wedding. Dusty skipped town and life moved on. But something brings Dusty back home … you can see where this is going. 

What ensues is the uncomfortable reintegration of a young man who has returned home to settle up with his mistakes, and the internal struggle of the woman who suffered at the expense of his youthful stupidity as she attempts to rediscover her true feelings.  

Austin Roos, in the role of Johnny Star — a wheeling-and-dealing promoter-type who has, somewhat deceitfully, captured the attention of a heartbroken Rose — plays antagonist to the ex-lovers’ haphazardly rejuvenated passion. What Roos does with Johnny Star is marvelous; he manages to embody the essence of a coldly manipulative and calculating predator couched in the sleaze and lowbrow aesthetic of a used-car salesman. His performance is bolstered by Romer’s high-powered and unabashedly raucous portrayal of Nelly.

But it’s not just that fantastic foursome that keeps the wheels on this wagon rolling. The supporting cast is also quite captivating. Missy Bruce, played by Elise Newell (who also choreographs the dance numbers), is a comic force to be reckoned with. Throughout Dusty and Rose’s messy spats, Missy is a protective friend to Rose; she’s opinionated and inappropriate at all the right times. Scott Perkins plays Will Rhoads, Dusty’s smirking sidekick. And all of these folks can sing, not to mention dance — the swing and tap-dance numbers that punctuate The Silver Spurs Saloon are exceptional. 

“We stuck with the tap-dancing element because it really helps us make this a celebration of American theatre,” Roos told me shortly after the group’s June 21 performance. 

In fact, the electricity the cast possessed after the show was alarming. You have to keep in mind that they aren’t just singing, dancing and acting. They are waiting tables, running the ticket booth, popping popcorn (best popcorn I’ve had in town) and who knows what else. Whatever it is that keeps this hard-working troupe going should be bottled and sold, though I have a feeling that it’s simply the fulfillment of doing what you truly love, and doing it well. In this case, that would be musical theater, at its best.

The Silver Spurs Saloon is a dinner-theatre musical that features food from nearby Ring of Fire Thai restaurant. So when you head down to check out the show, bring your appetite. It’s might tasty food and a porch-stomping good time.

The Silver Spur Saloon plays through Aug. 18 at Red Cane Theatre; for times, tickets or further info, visit theredcanetheatre.yolasite.com or call 556-4524.