Dangberg melodrama portrays historic conflict | RecordCourier.com

Dangberg melodrama portrays historic conflict

by Sarah Hauck
Cast members, from left, Kim Copel, Cory Baird, Linda Diego, Mark Jenson, Ron Sandstrom and Sharyn Denison rehearse for Battle of the Towns or "Are You a Mindenite or a GardnerVillain?".
Jim Grant | The Record-Courier

In a battle almost as old as the Dangberg Home Ranch itself, the annual melodrama will put Minden and Gardnerville against each other.

The Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park will present an old-fashioned melodrama production of “Battle of the Towns; or Are You a Mindenite or a Gardnervillain?” on the east lawn 6 p.m. July 25 and 26.

“The melodrama always incorporates the local history but this time, as the title implies, really focuses on the different attractions to the town of Minden and Gardnerville,” first time director Dianna deBorges said. “It’s kind of fun to take a moment and laugh at ourselves. We’ve always kind of laughed at other people like California. It’s kind of fun to take tongue and cheek at each other.”

The melodrama includes villains, a woe-is-me heroine, two proud town fathers, and variety of other colorful characters tussling over which town is best.

Audiences have the chance to boo the villain, cheer for the heroine, and otherwise contribute to the merriment and humor cast member Sharyn Denison enjoys.

“It has a really great story line,” the Gardnerville resident said. “There is a lot of humor and I feel when people come to a play they want to be entertained.”

Denison plays a farmer’s wife coming to Carson Valley looking to settle, stumbling upon the Minden versus Gardnerville debacle.

It has been 25 years since she has been in a play, but Denison isn’t worried about anything but her lines.

“My character really loves life and the one thing she loves the most is discovering new things and coming from Des Moines, this (Carson Valley) is just a great big new thing,” Denison said. “I love life just like her so playing my character is easy. Learning my lines is the toughest. There are certain ones that can be little stinkers.”

Accompanying Denison’s character on her journey of settling in the West is a melodrama veteran, Ron Sandstrom, playing her husband.

“This is my 13th melodrama. Lucky 13,” Sandstrom laughed. “This is my first melodrama character without a dialect from another part of the world. I’ve played a Basque and a German for instance. Playing a middle-westerner for the first time for me is a challenge because I’m a West Coast boy.”

Sandstrom’s wife, Linda, has played piano for the melodramas for the last 9 years, encouraging him to be a character.

This year’s character of a pioneer of the area has been interesting for Sandstrom.

“Playing a role of so many people that preceeded us in coming to this area and seeing it for the first time and deciding it would be a great place to settle is intriguing to me,” he said.

Written by Dave Thomas, the production will be performed in front of the historic Dangberg ranch house.

Tickets are $10 for adults, and $5 for children 16 and younger.

Tickets can be purchased by cash or check in Gardnerville at Battle Born Wine, 1448 Highway 395, or Joyce’s Fine Jewelry, 1503 Highway 395 or online using a credit card at dangberg.eventbrite.com.

If still available, tickets will also be sold at the gate until the park’s capacity is reached, by cash or check only.

The gate opens at 5 p.m., with the performance at 6 p.m.

Wine and beer will be available for purchase from the Friends of Dangberg.

Beginning at 5:30, the Carson Valley Lions Club will sell hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, popcorn, water and soft drinks to support its charitable efforts.

Ticketholders are also invited to bring their own picnic, snacks and beverages if they choose, and should bring lawn chairs, blankets or other seating.

In support of the Friends of Dangberg, visitors can also buy tickets for a 50/50 raffle and shop for books, jewelry and gifts in the museum’s store.

Dogs are not permitted in the park, with the exception of certified service animals.

The park is located at 1450 Highway 88, ¼ mile north of the Carson Valley Veterinary Hospital.

For information email curator@dangberghomeranch.org.

The melodrama is made possible by the support of Bently Ranch, SoaringNV, Borges Sleigh and Carriages Rides, Pit Stop Pots, and the Frances C. and William P. Smallwood Foundation. Additional support is provided by more than 400 contributing members of the Friends of Dangberg Home Ranch.