One of Mesa’s most familiar family attractions is getting a makeover, Hollywood style. Workers are installing old-fashioned lighting, curtains and other touches at Rockin’ R Ranch, the compact Western-themed town at Baseline and Recker roads, in anticipation for “The Howdy Show,” a new production by a California-based entertainment company that’s produced shows for Disneyland, Universal Studios, NFL Super Bowls and the Olympic Games.
The show opens at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
“It’s a themed experience going on all around you,” says Bobby Miziker, president of Miziker Entertainment Group, the company that’s sprucing up the ranch and putting on the show. It’s inked a contract with Rockin’ R to stage the production for five winters.
“Everything comes out with a number; everything is part of the fantasy. By the time people leave the show, they’re hootin’ and hollerin’,” says Miziker.
Set in an 1880s mining town, “The Howdy Show” takes visitors back to the days when troupes of performers traveled from settlement to settlement, making a living by staging variety shows. Back then, they’d advertise by greeting townsfolk with a “howdy,” which wasn’t a standard greeting at the time.
During the 90-minute production, “Miss Kitty” (Scottsdale actress Lisa Fogel) and her caravan of performers utilize music and comedy on stage, while costumed waiters — who also sing and dance — serve dinner and drinks. But the experience actually starts outside the theater, says Miziker art director Erin Sliva.
“From the minute you get here, until the minute you leave, we want you to feel like it’s the 1880s. From our standpoint, we’re examining every single tiny detail, so that visually, it takes you there,” she says.
The pre-show experience includes games and activities, like gold panning, and a two-story saloon where guests can belly up to the bar and listen to music characteristic of the era. Afterward, the town will offer more entertainment options.
In addition to Fogel, the cast includes Chantel Parsons (Goldie) of Queen Creek and Jeff Dolan (Slim), Niki Oakes (Miss Sue) and Mark Shannon (Two Gun) of Mesa.
Ron Miziker, the company’s founder, says producing a show in Mesa is no less thrilling than coordinating events for Walt Disney World, Queen Elizabeth of England, or Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
“It’s a great market with a large population and tourists and snowbirds, and the venue is just perfect for this kind of show,” he says. “I love the infectious nature of it. You don’t sit quietly at this show.”
Rockin’ R Ranch, open since 1984, typically hosts chuckwagon suppers, Western shows, live country bands, weddings and private events. Miziker Entertainment currently produces the “NightFire” shows at Viejas Casino near San Diego and the “Lights of Liberty” sound and light spectacular at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia.
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