The Pharr Community Theater opens its 14th season in Pharr with a Main Stage musical titled The Four Bills, book by Barry Glasser, music by David Spear, and lyrics by David Fox.
The Wild West musical, a tribute to western movies and folklore, is set in the 1890’s in the Oklahoma and North Texas territories and is based on the true story of the Doolin gang, bank and train robbers whose leader yearns to be as big and famous as his idol Jesse James. A dreamer and a charmer, the young kid wants to be Wanted, and when he forms a gang with two cohorts named Bill and another named George, they soon find themselves staring down from Wanted posters and pursued by relentless lawmen led by a U.S. Marshall named – Bill, of course.
A show within a show, their story is re-enacted by a touring company of actors inside a small but boisterous saloon owned by Winnie Henshaw, who narrates the saga twenty years after the events unfolded, joined by a dreamful of saloon girls and rowdy clientele, staged with vigor and ingenuity by director Seres Jaime Magaña and choreographer Patricia Turrubiates from Edinburg, with voice coaching by Denise Aimee Martinez.
The songs by Spear and Fox range from poignant ballads to full-scale choral production numbers to country & western showstoppers. They reflect Spear’s Broadway and Hollywood roots – as an orchestrator for the legendary Elmer Bernstein; and as the composer of Oscar and Emmy-winning documentaries, and a celebrated symphony orchestra conductor.
“The show is an homage to the westerns I loved as a boy in movie theaters and on television, growing up in the Wild East --New York,” said Barry Glasser, author of the book. “As director John Ford taught us in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, when you’ve got a choice between the facts and legend – print the legend!”
Glasser, whose screen credits include the popular family adventure Golddiggers starring Christina Ricci and Anna Chlumsky, and the classic animated film Little Nemo, is currently an English department faculty member at PSJA Southwest Early College High School in Pharr and South Texas College in McAllen. He was brought to the RGV by Teach for America.
“PCT has never done a full-scale musical before,” observes PCT artistic director Pedro Garcia. “It’s so exhilarating to see a talented RGV cast of 15 get a showcase that enables them to display the full spectrum of their abilities. Whether performing hilarious one-liners or intricate ensemble numbers or poignant moments of heart-stopping drama and romance, these youngsters are dedicated and delightful.”
Ian Salazar from McAllen is a 17-year-old Nikki Rowe High School student who plays the role of Eastern lawyer Bill Raidler who heads west on doctor’s orders for his health, and ends up getting sidetracked by a chance encounter with Doolin. Soon, the lawyer becomes an outlaw.
“It’s a very human musical-play in which these young men are thrown together to form a gang and come to terms with who they are,” Salazar noted.
Aaron Matthew Barrera, 24, from McAllen, plays Bill Doolin, the leader of the gang, who is as strong as steel and fast with a gun but also a charmer with a smile that can make a rattler become your friend. “He Idolizes Jesse James so you can say he’s idolizing the wrong person. He goes through life wanting to be a famous outlaw and after getting what he wants, he has to deal with the consequences,” Barrera commented.
Rafael Rivera, a 17-year-old from Pharr who is about to graduate with honors from PSJA SW Early College High School (where author Barry Glasser was his English teacher), plays another of the gang, the only one not named Bill but George Waightman. “He’s the sneaky one and you can say the comedian of the musical,” said Rivera.
Jasmin Coddington-Landeros who is 28 and from McAllen, trained at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, in New York City, for three years, plays Edith a vibrant saloon girl who falls in love with Doolin. “Their relationship is rocky but they end up finding a way to each other; it’s almost like Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet,” said Coddington-Landeros.
And 24-year-old Priscilla Amanda Lozano from Edinburg, who graduated from PSJA Memorial Early College High School (where the musical will have three of its 8 performances) and also has an Associate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from STC and a Communication Studies degree from UT Austin, plays Winnie Henshaw. Lozano has been involved with theater since the fifth grade. “Winnie is the proprietor of the saloon where the story of 20 years ago is being reenacted. “The show has something for everybody including joy, playfulness, seriousness and some tragedy and real moments, and the music reflects that as well,” added Lozano.
Other locals in the ensemble cast include Giahiza Zapata, Carlos Nuñez, Ruby Garcia, Irma Cirlos, Gina West-Keirn, Bo (Brianna) Amaya, Christian Climent, Alex Castellanos, Miguel Castellanos, Reymundo Salazar, Ryan D. Rivera and Natalie Faith Martinez.
Directed by Seres Jaime Magaña, the musical has taken shape from paper to stage with the help of an ensemble crew and co-sponsored by the City of Pharr.
“With this play the Pharr Community Theater invites you to the O.K. Saloon in old Oklahoma. Be ready for everything you could wish for in a Western, and then some!", said Magaña. “As for the cast, they are very dedicated, enthusiastic, charismatic, and they all come together in a way that superbly serves the material and reaches out to the audience. So grab your spurs, saddle up and come and see us!”
The musical has been in rehearsals since February and will tour to four different locations, in the Pharr area, from May 26 to June 18. Opening night will be at the downtown Pharr Amphi-Theater outside on the City Hall Courtyard, May 26 starting at 8:00 pm, as the sun begins to set. This first show will be a pay what you can pay at the donation box set up front. Following shows will be indoors and tickets will be $5 any student/Veterans/Senior Citizens or $8 general admission. Tickets will only be sold at the show starting one hour before curtain, on a first come first served basis. For more information, please visit and like the Pharr Community Theater Co. FB page or text or call 956-655-9308 or 956-451-3987.
May 26: Thur., 8:00 pm/ Dwtn. Pharr Amphi-Theater/ 118 S. Cage Blvd. Pharr/Outdoors
May 28: Sat., 3:00 pm/ Pepe Salinas Auditorium/ 1011 W. Kelly Ave. Pharr
June 9, 10 & 11: Thur., Fri. & Sat., 7:30 pm/ PSJA ISD Memorial HS Performing Arts Auditorium./ 800 S Alamo Rd. Alamo
June 17 & 18: Fri. & Sat., 7:30 pm/ DRC Center Conference Hall/ 850 W Dicker Rd. Pharr
Tickets available at the door, only, starting one hour before each show/open seating
May 12: Pay what you can in the donation box
All other shows: $5 all students, vets, and seniors or $8 general admission.
The show is equivalent to a PG rating.
For more information, please visit our FB page or text or call (956) 655-9308 or (956) 451-3987.