Bill Ronis practices during the Black Mountain Theatre's "The Great Diamond Swindle of 1872" on Tuesday at Craig Middle School. The play, which was originally produced in 1958 for Craig's Golden Jubilee, tells the story of a jewel scam carried out in Moffat County in the late 1800s. "The Great Diamond Swindle of 1872" premiers 7 p.m. Friday and shows again at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday at Craig Middle School.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Bill Ronis practices during the Black Mountain Theatre's "The Great Diamond Swindle of 1872" on Tuesday at Craig Middle School. The play, which was originally produced in 1958 for Craig's Golden Jubilee, tells the story of a jewel scam carried out in Moffat County in the late 1800s. "The Great Diamond Swindle of 1872" premiers 7 p.m. Friday and shows again at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday at Craig Middle School.

Old West with a twist

Play based on Moffat County history receives revamping, second showing

If you go

What: Black Mountain Theatre's performance of "The Great Diamond Swindle of 1872."

When: 7 p.m. Friday; 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Craig Middle School auditorium, 915 Yampa Ave.

Cost: $5 at Hems and Hers, 33 W. Victory Way and Elk Run Inn, 627 W. Victory Way. Tickets also are available at the door.

Call: 824-6002.

Dancing cacti.

Singing cowboys.

Saloon girls.

And puns - lots of puns.

Playgoers can expect to experience these and more this weekend at Black Mountain Theatre's "The Great Diamond Swindle of 1872," performer Beth Gilchrist said. The performance is one of the first events to kick off Craig's Centennial, Gilchrist said.

"As usual, we're having a ball" preparing for the play, Gilchrist said.

The show is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday. All performances will show at the Craig Middle School auditorium, 915 Yampa Ave.

Cindy Chotvacs directs the play, which includes 15 performers. The Theater has been practicing for the performance since January, performer Katie Johnson said.

Theatre members wanted to have a hand in the Centennial celebration, Gilchrist said, and decided to put on a play to honor the event.

The play is a Moffat County original in more ways than one.

Based on a pageant written by Esther Campbell, a Browns Park teacher, the play describes a jewel scam carried out in Moffat County during the late 1800s.

The play, originally written as a pageant, was produced in 1958 for Craig's Golden Jubilee.

A copy of the original play was provided by the Museum of Northwest Colorado

The play was chosen "mainly because it was (historically) pertinent to our area," Gilchrist said.

"It's fun to re-enact something that really happened," she said.

Chotvacs was unavailable for comment.

Gilchrist said performers first enacted the play in what is now the Craig Middle School auditorium.

Although the stage will stay the same, the play itself will be different from what playgoers saw 50 years ago.

The original script "was very, very dry," Gilchrist said.

So, Theatre members spruced it up, adding slapstick humor, jokes and some colorful Western characters, Gilchrist said.

The Theatre's Web site bills the play, "In the spirit of 'Blazing Saddles' or 'Rustler's Rhapsody,' we have endeavored to bring the Old West and Slapstick together in this comic accounting of one of our best and most famous local legends."

Tickets can be purchased for $5 at Hems and Hers, 33 W. Victory Way and The Elk Run Inn, 627 W. Victory Way. Tickets also are available at the door.

For more information, call 824-6002.

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