PONCA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – There was a big celebration that day, April 22, 1930.
Everybody dressed up.
The unveiling of the new Pioneer Woman monument made the newsreels and was broadcast on national radio.
You could watch the old film for historical accuracy, but Debra Harden Rue set out to capture the drama.
“I thought now was the perfect opportunity,” she says, “with the anniversary coming up. I’ve been researching for years.”
Growing up in Ponca City meant driving past the actual monument, now just off busy 14th Street.
Debbie grew up with it, and for some time, thought about coming up with a musical dedicated to the project, the winner of what was a nationwide competition and the 12 other statue candidates that competed for this spot.
“Each of the statues has a story,” Rue continues. “We have a tornado, a burning barn and the Land Run.”
‘Pioneer Women’ the musical came to life through Debbie’s pen, and eventually through Cara Kem’s stage direction.
“This show is brand new,” says Kem. “We are literally creating the map of how to put this one together.”
Their cast of Oklahomans only had about a week to practice in the Poncan Theater.
But for a production like this, there really could be no other venue considered.
Rue insists, “We had to use the Poncan. We’re so excited to be here.”
The original Pioneer Woman, a pioneer woman author, and a pioneer woman director, even pioneer women actors all pull from the same inspiration.
They possess a bit of confidence, a lot of bravery and a sense of adventure.
The true curtain on Pioneer Women opened a long time ago and may never close.
The world premiere of ‘Pioneer Women’ is set for the evening of April 23, 2021, 91 years and a day after the monument was dedicated.
For more information about the play and showtimes Friday through Sunday, go to www.poncantheatre.org.