GARDEN CITY, Rich County — Juanito Bandito is looking for revenge on the lawman who tried to do him in last season.
In this high-energy, shoot-'em-up stage adventure, the popular incorrigible character created and played by T.J. Davis is back as the "most guapo villain in the world" and trying to avoid a hanging. The Bandito actually starts the show in the noose, Davis said, in a scene harking back to an earlier show about the fearless outlaw.
Through a series of plot twists and turns, he's freed to try and outrun Sheriff Rowdy Jackson, a man who has devoted his last 14 months trying to catch the Bandito.
"I think it's going over very well,” Davis said. “People like this character. We've actually done three shows so far and ticket sales are up."
Davis said the Bandito show had 75 percent new music and 40 percent new scenes so for those who caught the first hanging, this show will be fresh. There are also new cast members including Jessica Jenkins, Megan Bagley, Eric Sackett, Whitney Davis, Spencer Carter, Robyn Petersen and Jacob Swain.
The Pickleville Playhouse also has a new pianist as longtimer Ralph Degn left to serve as an LDS mission president. Luke Shepherd is taking his place.
On alternate nights at the showhouse, the story of "Forever Plaid" is retold, featuring many of the same cast members who are in the Bandito show. That cast includes a musical foursome made up of Davis' younger brother Derek, two members of the Young Ambassadors from Brigham Young University and one from the Jazz Voices of BYU. The result is a lush blend of wonderful voices singing 1950s favorites.
"It's all about the arrangements and the outlandish choreography these guys have come up with," Davis said.
Both shows are family-friendly and provide a welcome change to water and sand for Bear Lake visitors.
Pickleville Playhouse offers a Wild West Barbecue prior to the evening shows that has been upgraded and expanded as well. Davis said the crowds are growing each year and Pickleville Playhouse players are looking forward to a great season.
He is somewhat surprised at the continued interest for his Juanito Bandito character. This is the fifth show featuring the swaggering, Spanglish-speaking character. How does he keep it up show after show, year after year?
"Here, locally, we get noticed a lot, but I just turn it off. My wife doesn't let me do the Bandito at home," he said.
If you go:
What: "The Hanging of El Bandito, Reimagined," and "Forever Plaid"
When: Now through the first week in September; dinner at 6:30 p.m., show at 8, matinees at 1 and 5 p.m.
Where: 2049 S. Bear Lake Blvd., Garden City
Cost: Show $18/$13 children; dinner $13.50/$9.50; dinner & show $31.50/$22.50
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.