Zane Grey’s The Light of Western Stars superb crafted play

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Was it Baroness von Langendorff meets Paladin? Well not exactly but The Light of Western Stars, a new play being presented by Little Candle Productions, does bring a beautiful New York high society lady to a rugged Arizona ranch circa 1912 where she swiftly meets a rough and blunt cowboy and the story takes off. The Light of Western Stars was written by Bob Colleary and adapted from the classic novel by Zane Grey.

The show opens when Madeline Hammond [Betsy Ross] arrives by train somewhere in Arizona in 1912. The Wild West is far less wild but she is immediately offended by the incomprehensible lack of a porter to assist her with her bags. She has travelled all the way from her posh New York home to a rural Arizona ranch to oversee the estate of her recently deceased brother.

Betsy Roth and Jon Snow
Betsy Roth and Jon Snow

Culture shock instantly sets in not only by virtue of the lack of a porter but by her encounter with the deeply offensive, very much inebriated cowboy Gene Stewart [Jon Snow].

From this difficult beginning the adventures of Madeline Hammond in early 20th century Arizona unfolds and the New York socialite gradually begins to find beauty and joy in her new Arizona home. But it is not without challenges including a very harsh effort to buy her out of her ranch and at one point a decision to retreat back to New York.

A good story is much more about the journey than the end and in The Light of Western Stars the journey is filled with abundant humor, challenges and triumphs. It is a tale of growth and change and as told by the Little Candle Production presentation it is also supported by some very old school western music from the live band on set. I found the vocal presentation of the classic “Home on the Range” by guitarist and vocalist Billy Gill to be particularly moving.

The venue for this show was at the Old Mill or El Molino Viejo, the oldest commercial structure in Los Angeles County, currently celebrating its 200th anniversary. It is extremely history rich and a very beautiful and intriguing venue which among other things also houses a delightful art collection. However in all truth it is not the ideal theatrical venue. Nevertheless The Light of Western Stars was superbly crafted and performed and if possible deserves being seen.

The Light of Western Stars is a short run now through August 21st with show time being 7:30 p.m. It is at the Old Mill a/k/a El Molino Viejo, 1120 Old Mill Road, San Marino, California. Ticketing information is available online at: Little Candle Productions or by calling: 626-497-8700. Even if you can’t make it to this show do check out the Little Candle Production website for future productions. Adios amigo!

Photos by Jo Winebrenner
Top photo: E. Wilcox, Jon Snow, Paula Deming, Betsy Roth, Karina Vacker