Since Rodgers & Hammerstein’s hit 1943 musical Oklahoma, world stages have been graced by a smattering of shows set in the American West. Some incorporate authentic country-western songs and instrumentation, while others feature a more traditional Broadway sound. Check out the list below for a collection of Concord Theatrical’s country-themed or country-styled musicals.
A musical adaptation of The Rainmaker (US/UK) exploring Depression-era love and hope. In the tiny town of Three Point, in the hot and drought-stricken American southwest, traveling con man Bill Starbuck makes a promise to the local farmers that he’ll conjure up some rain. Local spinster Lizzie Curry pursues a romantic relationship with the charismatic stranger.
What if the three wise men weren’t really all that wise? What if they were just three ordinary guys, avoiding conflicts at home, who happened upon the greatest story ever told? Now add music, set the entire story in modern day America, sprinkle in a little redneck humor, and you have the smash A Good Old Fashioned Redneck Country Christmas: The Musical!
Annie Oakley is the best sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill’s show, but when her star power threatens to overshadow the man she loves, can she beat him in a final shoot-out? Featuring the classic and enduring Irving Berlin tune “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” there has seldom if ever been a show as buoyant as Annie Get Your Gun.
When Bella boards a train west to reunite with her Buffalo soldier sweetheart, she encounters the most colorful and lively characters ever to roam the Western plains. Bullets and fists will fly, heads and hearts will break, but – blessed with a big heart and a voluptuous figure – Bella will breeze on through it all.
Twain’s timeless classic sweeps audiences down the mighty Mississippi as the irrepressible Huck Finn helps his friend Jim escape from slavery to freedom at the mouth of the Ohio River. Their adventures along the way are hilarious, suspenseful and heartwarming, bringing to life everyone’s favorite characters from the novel.
An exuberant stage adaptation of the 1953 movie musical starring Doris Day in the title role. In the wild-west outpost of Deadwood City, 1876, sharpshooting tomboy Calamity Jane carouses with cowboys, townsfolk and her arch rival, the famous Wild Bill Hickok.
Das Barbecü by Jim Luigs & Scott Warrender (US)
(Full-Length Musical, Comedy / 3f, 2m)
This foot-stompin’ Texas hootenanny, complete with lassos, long-neck beers, fringed leather and steel guitars, is a hilarious small-cast retelling of Wagner’s Ring Cycle.
A whoopin’, shootin’, hollerin’ firecracker of a show, based on the novel by Max Brand and the 1939 western movie starring Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart. Tom Destry is hired as the deputy sheriff of Bottleneck in order to rid the town of Kent and his gang. Frenchy, a saloon girl who is initially one of Kent’s followers, saves Destry’s life and becomes romantically involved with him.
Diamond Studs by Jim Wann (US)
(Full-Length Musical, Comedy / 7f, 7m)
A rip-roaring musical that even had New York critics stomping their feet. Jesse James is seen as a frustrated Southerner at the end of the Civil War, hamstrung by Northern limits imposed on the losers’ personal freedom. He turns to bank and train robbery, ultimately to be done in by his pal, Bob Ford, for the sake of reward and publicity.
In 1925, while chasing fame by turning a Kentucky cave into a tourist attraction, Floyd Collins is trapped 200 feet underground. Alone but for sporadic contact with the outside world, Floyd fights for his sanity – and, ultimately, his life – as the rescue effort above explodes into a media circus. This haunting musical, featuring a glorious country and bluegrass-inspired score, tells the transcendent tale of a true American dreamer.
Celebrating the exhilaration of youth, the wisdom of listening to one another, and the power of forgiveness, Footloose tells the tale of a small town struck by a ban on dancing. The heartfelt story that emerges pins a father longing for the son he lost against a young man aching for the father who walked out on him.
10 contestants. 4 days. 1 truck. Inspired by true events, and infused with a “fresh roots-rock vibe,” this is the hilarious, hard-fought contest where only one winner can drive away with the American dream.
Honky Tonk Highway by Richard Berg & Robert Lindsey-Nassif (US)
(Full-Length Musical, Dramatic Comedy / 1f, 4m)
This foot-stomping country-western romp was an Award-winning Off-Broadway hit. Honky-Tonk Highway is a tribute to that legendary (literally) country-western singer and songwriter: the late, great, (albeit fictional), Clint Colby. He did some things rights, some things wrong, and left behind a trail of songs.
Johnny Guitar by Joel Higgins, Nicholas Van Hoogstraten & Martin Silvestri (US)
(Full-Length Musical, Comedy / 2f, 6m)
A rip-snorting, bang ’em up, rootin’, tootin’ good time! This laugh-filled musical based on the legendary Joan Crawford cult western embraces and sends up fifties-style movie acting, melodramatic romance and rough-and-tumble cowboy action. Featuring a sensational score with echoes of doo-wop and steamy southwestern ballads, Johnny Guitar tells the showdown story of a sultry saloon keeper and her jealous nemesis, the town’s tycoon.
A fun-filled, foot-stompin’ musical taken directly from the comics, Li’l Abner is laced with gentle satire, rib-tickling gags, and a host of brash, catchy tunes. The crowd-pleasing score includes “If I Had My Druthers,” “Jubilation T. Cornpone,” “Progress Is the Root of All Evil” and “The Country’s in the Very Best of Hands.”
Falling for the waitress who serves your patty melt, living paycheck to paycheck, while you still can… Lust ‘n Rust is the story of Connie, an inhabitant of Redbud Mobile Estates who waits tables at Smitty’s Diner. Connie’s new boyfriend Steve, a corporate manager from New Jersey, is charged with an assignment that could have a disastrous impact on the local economy.
Based on Lynn Riggs’ Green Grow the Lilacs (US/UK), this groundbreaking musical set the stage for all that followed. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s exuberant classic is a lively, tuneful musical full of cowboys, farmers, romance and fearless optimism.
The “Pump Boys” sell high octane on Highway 57 in Grand Ole Opry country and the “Dinettes,” Prudie and Rhetta Cupp, run the Double Cupp diner next door. Together they fashion an evening of country western songs that received unanimous raves on and off Broadway. With heartbreak and hilarity, they perform on guitars, piano, bass and, yes, kitchen utensils.
Purlie by Ossie Davis, Phillip Rose, Peter Udell & Gary Geld (US)
(Full-Length Musical, Comedy / 4f, 4m)
When Purlie Victorious Judson, that strutting, newfangled preacher man, returns to his small hometown in Georgia, he wants a church and he wants freedom for the men and women working the fields of Ol’ Cap’n Cotchipee’s plantation. With the help of Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins, Purlie sets out to meet his goals.
Lovin’ ain’t easy in this one-honky-tonk town, so when the bartender and the bandleader fall for the same dance hall girl, you’re in for an evening of showstoppers and toe-tappers, cat fights, and love quadrangles that’ll keep any joint jumpin’ till way past last call.
Shenandoah by Phillip Rose, Peter Udell, James Lee Barrett & Gary Geld (US)
(Full-Length Musical, Drama / 3f, 11m, 2boys)
This colorful and dramatic saga is based on the classic film starring James Stewart as a strong-willed Virginia farmer trying to keep his family neutral as the Civil War rages. As Union and Confederate forces see things only in shades of blue or grey, one family is inevitably swept
up in the conflict.
Smoke on the Mountain tells the hilarious and heartwarming story of a Saturday Night Gospel Sing at a country church in North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains in 1938. The show features two dozen rousing bluegrass songs played and sung by the Sanders Family, a traveling group making its return to performing after a five-year hiatus.
Set against the colorful backdrop of an American heartland tradition, State Fair travels with the Frake family as they leave behind the routine of the farm for three days of adventure at the annual Iowa State Fair. Mom and Pop have their hearts set on blue ribbons, while their children Margy and Wayne find romance and heartbreak on the midway.
Set in the late 19th century, this musical is inspired by the remarkable real-life frontier story of Josephine Monaghan. Josephine, a young society woman living in Boston, bears a child out of wedlock. In search of a new life and an income to support herself and her baby, she leaves her newborn son in the care of her sister and travels out West alone. For nearly 20 years, she makes her home in a tough Idaho mining town disguised as a man called “Jo.”
Carol Hall’s bawdy-but-wholesome crowd-pleaser skewers pretension, celebrates life and touches the heartstrings. This raucous, red-blooded, hilarious musical comedy about a “Lil Ole Bitty Pissant Country Place” took Broadway by storm and continues to enthrall audiences worldwide.
A musical retelling of Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey set in Washington state at the turn of the 20th century, this classic American musical, which features the jazz standard “Lazy Afternoon,” has earned an avid cult following,
A feisty parolee follows her dreams, based on a page from an old travel book, to a small town in Wisconsin and finds a place for herself working at Hannah’s Spitfire Grill. The Grill is for sale, but there are no takers for the only eatery in the depressed town, until a raffle causes things to start cookin’ at the Spitfire Grill.
Will Rogers was a unique and celebrated American figure, remembered for his humor, his wisdom and his just plain common sense. Presented in the style of a Ziegfeld Follies revue, The Will Rogers Follies chronicles the life of the beloved American entertainer through snappy tunes, elaborate production numbers and comic sketches.
Wildcat “Wildy” Jackson and her sister Jane arrive in Centavo City with big dreams of striking it rich in the oil business. Though Wildy has neither land nor know-how, she convinces Joe Dynamite, a crew foreman, to help her prospect. Joe doubts they’ll ever find oil, but Wildy persists. After several adventures and a turbulent romance, Wildy and Joe ultimately prevail, and a gusher explodes over their triumphant finale.
Header Image: 2021 Porchlight Music Theatre production of Pump Boys and Dinettes (Cholette)