Did you know in Phoenix you can attend the theatre for lunch and arrive back in time for a one o’clock meeting? ‘Tis true. Merry Christmas. You can thank me later.
It’s a little thing called Lunch Time Theatre, in its 14th year at the back end of the Herberger downtown. The purpose is to “offer patrons affordable and entertaining live theater experiences presented by emerging theater companies.” And, yes, they really do finish fast enough to dash back to your cubicle a bit more cultured.
It’s at one of these performances I run into Wyatt Earp. Yep, like the famous lawman. Turns out he was also a gambler, brothel owner, buffalo hunter and a soldier. He’s most famous for his stint as Town Marshall in Tombstone and his part in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. And his best pal Doc Holiday. And, yep, the Wyatt I meet is the great grand nephew of the Arizona hero.
As for the gunfight—it lasted thirty seconds and remains one of the most famous stories of lore in the Old West. Funny thing? The gunfight wasn’t in the corral or even next to it. It was down the street. About thirty shots were fired in thirty seconds. And, even today, people in New York City think Arizona resembles the O.K. Corral days. Pfft.
I meet the descendant Earp for coffee in Phoenix where he tells me of a lifelong dream to have two to three significant careers, which is how the man went from successful insurance agent to actor. He and his wife, playwright, actress and producer, Terry, present the performance we take in at the Herberger. It’s a one women play written by Terry casting light on cowboy women through history.
The Wyatt sitting across the table has been portraying his famous relative since 1996. He’s won an AriZona Award and has performed the piece, “Wyatt Earp: A Life on the Frontier,” almost 700 times across the United States, Canada and Europe. The two collaborate, travel and perform despite the fact that an accident left Terry in a wheelchair in 2006. She continues to write, perform and produce documentaries—the latest of which is “Before and After Quadriplegia,” centered around six quadriplegics and their success in reinventing themselves.
Their stint at lunchtime is over but they are traveling into 2015 with a host of performances. As for culture at lunchtime, the schedule is plotted until August. For the happy footed crowd, there’s also dance at lunch featuring abridged performances of the Center Dance Ensemble.
Best part? Eat while you watch. Lunch can be ordered through the theater or bring your own. Munching seems not to bother the actors a bit.
So what’s your plan for your second career?