Posted 8/19/14 (Tue)
By Neal A. Shipman
As summer quickly draws to a close with the start of school in McKenzie County and across much of North Dakota this week, there is still time to take in one of the best shows in the state - the Medora Musical.
For those of us that grew up in western North Dakota, the Medora Musical has been an annual “must see” event ever since the late Harold Schafer, who founded the Bismarck-based Gold Seal Company, decided to restore the old cowboy town of Medora and build an amphitheater in the Badlands to help educate and entertain the people. Medora, of course, is a cowboy town steeped in history with people like Theodore Roosevelt and the Marquis de Mores once calling that area of the North Dakota Badlands their home in the 1880s. Roosevelt, who went on to become the 26th President of the United States, was quoted as saying that if not for the time that he had spent in the North Dakota Badlands, he would have never been President. And de Mores, a rich French nobleman, had dreams of turning western North Dakota into a national center for supplying processed beef to the rest of the United States,
It’s hard to believe that now 50 years later, the vision that Harold Schafer had for the Medora Musical would still be still be playing nightly throughout the summer in perhaps the most beautiful outdoor amphitheater in all of North Dakota - the Badlands. But Schafer knew the secret to a great family production. You provide wholesome family entertainment that combines history, music, singing and dancing, along with nationally-known specialty acts, and then throw in some good old-fashioned patriotism, and you have a show that entertains and pleases people of all ages from across North Dakota and the nation.
As someone who has been to the Medora Musical at least 40 of the 50 years that the Medora Musical has been running, I can attest to having left the show every year with a smile on my face, and sometimes with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye after listening to the Burning Hills Singers do their renditions of “Dakota” and “Come Home to North Dakota.”
So, if you have never been to the Medora Musical before, should you go? Absolutely! After watching the show for the better part of the last 40 years, I can honestly say that this production is the best that I have ever seen.
And, if you have been to the Medora Musical before, should you go back this year? Again, absolutely! The singers in this year’s cast are some of the best that I have ever heard. And for the first time in many years, the show has incorporated everything that I loved from the previous shows.
The Medora Musical is a show that you don’t want to miss, and from my perspective, attending the show in the fall of the year is the best time to go. The evening temperatures are quite a bit cooler than during the summer months, plus in the fall you also have the privilege of watching an absolutely glorious sunset as the show gets underway.
So do yourself a favor before the show closes for the season on Sept. 6, and spend a wonderful evening with family and friends at the Medora Musical. It will be a great way to end the summer.