February 8, 2009

Goodbye, God I’m going to Anchorage!

Cyrano’s Theatre Company in Anchorage, Alaska is presenting, The Ballad of Soapy Smith by Michael Weller and directed by Dick Reichman, beginning February 13, 2009 through March 1, 2009. Sandy Harper, the Producing Artistic Director has arranged that I can fly up there for the play on February 26 through March 1.

"Originally commissioned in 1983 to open the new Seattle Repertory Theatre and picked up by the New York Public Theatre. Jefferson Randolph ('Soapy') Smith II (1860-July 8, 1898) was an American con artist and gangster who had a major hand in the organized criminal operations of Denver, CO, Creede, CO, and the focus of our play, the gold rush days of Skagway, Alaska. This particular song of a man trapped in his own myth and inevitably paying the price is also about the moral contradictions that are still reflected in today’s politics. This large cast saga will make the gold rush days of Skagway and the notorious Soapy Smith come alive. Soapy Smith ‘bends truth into shapes never before seen on this earth.’… We are also honored that the playwright, Michael Weller, will be our guest for opening night."

At the conclusion of each nights performance I will be giving a small talk on the historical aspects of the play with a question and answer period. The play is a part of the events scheduled for the annual Fur Rondy event called Gold Rush Day on Saturday Feb 28 which occurs in front of Cyrano's. This event will feature period music and entertainment including a reenactment of the shoot out on Juneau Wharf between Soapy and Frank Reid. Frank Delaney has been kind enough to restage the fight especially for this purpose. I will be there dressed in my period 1898 Soapy outfit (if I can withstand the cold) performing various short cons.

(click to enlarge)
Looking down on Resurrection Creek and Cook Inlet.

It is my hope that I will be able to visit a very important location for Soapites. This is Hope, Alaska at the mouth of Resurrection Creek where in 1896 Soapy landed on the steamer General Canby in hopes of finding a gold rush town from which to build a new empire. He did not find what he was looking for but while there he wrote to his wife.

May 10, 1896
Cooks Inlett [sic] near Coal Bay, 600 miles from Juneau on board the Gen. Canby 2500 miles north of San Francisco.

Dear Mollie,
Am well, will be to my destination tomorrow if nothing goes wrong. Have had a hell of a trip. You can write to Resurection [sic] Creek, Cooks Inlett [sic], Alaska. Have no time to write now as we hail a steamer bound for San Francisco to mail this. Have heard no word from you since I left Denver.

Yours Jeff
Love to all
Turning the letter sideways he wrote, "Gold here in big quantities all country talking up here-"

It is currently about 15 degrees in Anchorage so I had probably better bring an extra sweater. Lol.

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