Theater is alive and well in Belle Fourche

Belle Fourche News

 Theater is alive and well in Belle Fourche and has been since the town was founded in 1903. Of course, drama and theater go together, and it seems both are here to stay. “Mystery at Max’s” provided plenty of each. 

  The two performances at the Tri-State Museum on Friday and Saturday well attended and appreciated by full house audiences. There was comedy, theatrics, and a pleasant trip down memory lane for those familiar with the town. For newcomers, the play was an engaging opportunity to learn about local history. 

   The play is set in Max’s restaurant in 1979. Max’s was a popular upscale restaurant in Belle Fourche during the time period. The script was written by Tri-State Museum Director Kristi Theilen, when she was inspired by an original menu from Max’s that was featured in the museum’s “recent What’s on the Menu” mini exhibit. 

   References to actual items on the menu such as “tomato towers,” and real people, Pete and Alberta Krush, and Beth Morey the bar manager at Max’s in 1979 are included in the script.  

  The setting of the drama is Max’s restaurant. The characters include the restaurant staff, and several regular diners. When a rumor about a secret restaurant competition is revealed, it spreads quickly. The rumor becomes a secret that no one is supposed to know about, but that everyone knows about. Ultimately the truth is revealed, and the mysteries are resolved.  

   Mystery at Max’s is a readers theater form of drama that differs slightly from traditional theater. Actors read from scripts as they might in a radio drama, or in an oral reading. Although the actors may memorize their lines, they are presented as “readers”. 

   Kristi Theilen, Director of the Tri-State Museum was the author of “Mystery at Max’s”.  The play was prepared in collaboration with the Belle Fourche Fine Arts Council (BFAC).

 The BFAC is made up of community volunteers with a strong commitment to the arts in Belle Fourche. One of their projects is the 1903 Reader’s Theater Company that offers entertaining plays based on actual historic events in Belle Fourche. The group chose the name to commemorate the date that Belle Fourche became a town. 

  “Mystery at Max’s” was also an opportunity for the BFAC to host a silent auction to raise funds for future projects. 

   Cast members were: Wayne Gilbert, Sheila West, Katharina Steel, Joan Gerkin, Meg English, Jim Hoff, Lynda Edwards, Sarah Steve; Back row: Angela Hastings, Dennis Wilkins, Bobbe Ward, and Kristi Theilen. Crew members were: Kim Reausaw, sound technician, Jada Udager, set and lights, Jean Maher, house manager and seamstress, and Kristi Theilen, director. 

   Cast, crew and audiences comprised a wide demographic of young, old, new and established local people.

Mystery at Max’s cast-left to right front row: Wayne Gilbert, Sheila West, Katharina Steeves, Joan Gerkin, Meg English, Jim Hoff, Lynda Edwards, Sarah Steeves; Back row: Angela Hastings, Dennis Walkins, & Bobbe Ward.  Photo Courtesy Tri-State Museum