Lights go up on the cook shack at the Diamond O Cattle Ranch, in a valley of the Ruby Mountains in Montana ... Onstage, a performance of the yearly Western Welcome Week play at Littleton United Methodist Church, performed by the Encore Players, directed by Annawyn Shamas.
The grizzled, denim-clad Cooky (Debbie Pierce), with a dirty flour sack tied around her waist, comes through the door, clutching a piece of meat and shaking a fist at the retreating dog outside ... Muttering about cleaning dust off that meat and cooking it ...
The table is set and Cooky hollers “Come and git it before I throw it out!” Curly (Dave Lloyd) and Stub (Donna Smith) appear and Curly throws a basin of water out the door, eliciting a yelp from Tex (Pam Clifton) who just caught a face full of soapy water.
“Fried cow for supper again” Stub complains, as cowhand Granny (Jeff Long) stomps in and heads for the table. All grumble about the food, overdue pay, working conditions, weather, the boss — and more ... and we’re 10 minutes into “Summer Comes to the Diamond O” by Montana playwright Robert V. Finch (1930s-40s), who was married to the well-known author Betty Smith (“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”).
The Boss (Kathy Long) appears and says she can’t pay them until “I sell them steers.”
She gives them each $10 and Curly says he’s heading out ... “won’t stop ridin’ ‘til it’s fine and warm.” He’ll ask a stranger “Whereabouts am I pardner?” and he’ll answer “Californy, cowboy.”
Time for Stub, the multi-talented Donna Smith, to pull out a banjo from under the pillow and break out with “I’m a poor, lonesome, cowboy ...” Complaints from the others — everyone’s grouchy.
A stranger appears through the door saying the food “sure looks good,” raving about the good bakin’ powder biscuits, “just like they make in old New England.” Pretty soon everyone is biting into them and saying they’re good ... He then talks about how good the steak tastes.
A happy Cooky remembers she has a cake in the kitchen and happiness prevails ... “Summer Comes to the Diamond O.”
Shamas says this is her 17th production with the Encore Players — many for Western Welcome Week, but she has worked on productions at other times of year at this active church, which also offers musical entertainment for the Littleton community. The Littleton Symphony performs here and there was recently a performance of “Jesus Christ, Superstar.” Watch for announcements.
“Summer Comes to the Diamond O” was performed on Sunday Aug. 14 and Monday, Aug. 15. Tickets were free.