GARDEN CITY, UTAH — It's the seventh summer for Juanito Bandito and his alter ego T.J. Davis, but Davis isn't tired of the gig that has him playing a Spanglish-speaking, lovable bad guy.
In fact, Davis says he's as excited as ever to play the irrepressible, wisecracking outlaw, a swaggering, mustachioed bandit who isn't ashamed of being wanted by the law or of telling lame jokes.
"I've said this before, but it remains true: Each and every new performance feels like a brand-new show to me because almost anything can happen," Davis told the Deseret News as he was preparing for the newest version of "Who Shot Juanito Bandito? Reimagined," which opens June 6.
Davis, who writes the show and created the title character, said he and the other cast members constantly look for ways to change and update the show. He doesn't mind at all if everybody goes off the book; it makes the reimagined show fresh.
"We have planned improv moments where we choose to go off-script and create something new each night. Some nights work out a little better than others during those moments, but they are unique experiences that we get to share with each group of people that come to see the shows," Davis said.
"This particular Bandito script is probably my favorite of them all," he said. "It keeps the audience engaged and fully entertained for the entire two hours."
Davis said there is plenty of variety in the show and plenty of entertainment.
There are also a couple of newcomers to the show, including Tony Carter, who just finished touring with the Utah Shakespeare Festival's Shakespeare-in-the-Schools production of "The Taming of the Shrew."
Jordan Todd Brown is returning to play the role he created, Marshal Big Guns Bo Garrett.
"People should be very excited to come watch him do his thing," Davis said.
The comedic Bandito musicals have sold out in the past six years and play to audiences that travel to the Pickleville Playhouse in Garden City and vacationers at Bear Lake.
In the Bandito story, Juanito Bandito and his band of outlaws are trying to cement El Bandito as the "baddest bad guy in history" by robbing every bank in the Western territory.
Marshal Bo Garrett, a self-absorbed lawman, stands in their way, along with a cowboy hero and a devastatingly lovely British journalist.
The Bandito shows are designed and written for families and people of all ages, Davis said.
Cast members include Davis, Brown and Carter, as well as Lirenza Gillette, Derek Davis, Whitley Davis, Michael Francis and Whitney Hatch, with Chelsea Shurilla at the piano.
The show is directed by Andrea Davis with choreography by Sharli King.
"We feel like the Bandito shows are a truly unique genre of live performance," T.J. Davis said. "It's a musical comedy with a modern melodrama flair. It’s unlike anything that people have seen before, and that’s why it keeps getting bigger and bigger each year."
If you go ...
What: "Who Shot Juanito Bandito? Reimagined"
Where: Pickleville Playhouse, 2049 S. Bear Lake Blvd., Garden City
When: June 6-Sept. 6, dates and times vary
How much: $19.50 for adults, $14.50 for children
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.
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