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Friday, September 22, 2023

Medora The Musical: 58 Years of Family Entertainment – The Dickinson Press


Medora, North Dakota – The acclaimed Medora Musical held its opening night performance on Wednesday, June 7. Since 1965, more than 4 million people have enjoyed family-friendly entertainment here.

This year’s show is co-hosted by theater veterans Sheridan Zuther and John Payonk.Zuther says

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is at the core of her passion for the performing arts. She grew up on a farm near Martin, North Dakota, and Sheridan County is named after it.

“I’ve been coming here since I was three years old … the whole family will be here and we’ll be camping most of the time, which is really cool,” Zuther said. “

Roughrider’s historical themes come to the fore in this performance.

“The big thing this year is the 125th anniversary, they led the attack on San Juan Hill in Cuba.


During the Spanish-American War in 1898… TR actor, he was great,” Zuser said. “I came home and that was the first time I started singing in our barn. We have an empty barn with a tin roof on our farm. I don’t know if this show inspired me, but it most likely did. “

6-7-23 Charging.png

The performers opened with Teddy Roosevelt’s iconic charge on the San Juan Hills.

Contribute / Victoria Dum

Damon Fichter, a Dickinson native, DSU alumnus and veteran of the Medora musical, where he has been performing for seven years, is now pursuing his musical career in Nashville. He recalls the excitement of first getting a place here.

“I was encouraged by the faculty there at (DSU) to audition, and I did it… I didn’t tell any of my family or friends that I was going to audition. I just wanted to gain experience. I remember being in college Got a call in computer class, freaked out, and the rest is history,” Fichter said.

He detailed why he kept coming back.


Damon Fichte and Sheridan Zusser.

Jason O’Day / Dickinson Press

“For North Dakota in particular, it’s a very nostalgic experience … it’s really the closest we have to a big show, live theater and top performers,” he said. “Look around the country, where else can you find an outdoor amphitheater with nearly 3,000 seats that has a different show every year? It has the same name, but it’s different every year.”

Three other North Dakota natives also took to the stage. One of them is Tracey Aaronson, the woman of Fargo, who received her degree from the American Academy of Music and Drama in New York City in 2021. Even her off-stage time is mostly devoted to her craft, working as a choreographer.

Bismarck native Tryton Landsiedel said he was “very happy” to be back for his second season as the Burning Hills singer. He recently graduated from NDSU with a BS in Nursing. His musical roots are deeply rooted in Medora. Landsiedel attended the Perkins Rising Star Drama Camp in Medora and went on to work there as a junior consultant and staff member. He said that these experiences made him understand that dreams can only be realized with hard work and persistence.


The Hollywood-style Medora sign is located just outside the amphitheatre.

Jason O’Day / Dickinson Press

Taylor Leet Vogel is also from Bismarck. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance from Columbia College in Chicago. Vogel’s love of acting has brought her back to North Dakota, where she’s been the Burning Mountain singer in the Medora musical since 2017.

Special performances will include Canine Stars stunt dog show June 8-9, Paul Bunyan Lumberjack show July 11-6 and comedian Michael Palascak August 8-September 9.

French aristocrat and meatpacking entrepreneur Marquis de Mores chose the name Medora in 1883, and Theodore Roosevelt established his Elk Horn ranch the following year. But a snowstorm in 1888 wiped out much of the cattle industry.


Equestrian performers at the Medora musical.

Jason O’Day / Dickinson Press

Medora remained a sleepy town for the next 60-70 years until the charitable merchants

Harold Shaffer

Revitalized the historic but dilapidated Rough Riders Hotel and purchased the amphitheater originally built in 1958 to create the Medora Musical as we know it. The location of this theater was chosen for its natural concave shape and acoustics. On a calm night, someone can speak from the stage and be heard from the top of the mountain.

The musical will run from now until Saturday, September 9th. Adult tickets range from $49 to $71. Admission is free for children 6 and under, admission starts at $23 for children 7 to 17, and there are free Kids Days throughout the summer. Admission is free to all active and ex-military members on July 9.


Performance of the musical “How Joe Ferris’ Grocery Store in Medora Changed the Course of History!”

Contribute / Victoria Dum

Jason O’Day graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September 2021, he was a general news reporter for the Creston News Advertiser in Southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With his passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he loves life on the western edge. His reporting focuses on Stark County government and surrounding rural communities.


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