Community theater exhibit still open at museum


By The Telegram

By The Telegram

There's still some time this summer for southwest Kansans and visitors to see "Community Theatre: A Legacy of Directing and Design" at the Finney County Historical Museum.

The exhibit opened last Nov. 11 in the museum's temporary gallery and it will remain in place for part of the season ahead, according to Steve Quakenbush, executive director of the Finney County Historical Society.

"We have identified the theme for the next exhibit in the gallery, and work on the new display will begin soon, but we felt like there should still be an opportunity for people to see the current feature this summer," the director said.

The temporary gallery houses exhibits that change once or twice per year, and the present display includes colorful costumes, posters, set pieces and props from a series of theater productions directed by Doral "Skip" Mancini, Satanta, beginning in the 1970s. The presentations featured costumes by Gay Morgan and Suzi Watson, both of Garden City.

Mancini put nearly 100 plays and musicals on community and college theater stages over three decades, through 2007, combining her directing talents with Broadway-style sets that her husband, architect Vincent Mancini, designed. In collaboration, various historically-accurate costumes were created by Morgan, a Garden City accountant and talented seamstress. Watson developed costumes in some of Mancini's earlier productions.

In the three-dimensional 22 by 25-foot museum exhibit, visitors can re-live or discover elements from "South Pacific," "Anything Goes," "Fiddler on the Roof," "Oklahoma," "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," "Cabaret," "Once Upon a Mattress," "Carousel," "The King and I," "Quilters," "Damn Yankees," "Guys and Dolls," and "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."

Among other elements, the display includes a wooden carousel horse suspended from the ceiling, dating to a 1989 production; an audible collection of show tunes; and a trio of original seats from Garden City's Clifford Hope Auditorium. The extensive series of costumes ranges from a shimmering coat of many colors, designed by Morgan in 2001 for the "Dreamcoat" production, to a deep turquoise, 19th Century-style dress with gold edging that she created for "The King and I" in 2004, along with more than 20 others.

There are also set design drawings, photographs, quilt pieces and related items.

In addition to the temporary gallery, the museum recently opened a short-term Kansas landscape exhibition in the Front Door Gallery, showing images by Southwest Kansas photographer and motorcyclist Shirley Creeden. Displays in Front Door Gallery change multiple times throughout the year.

Long-term exhibits include "Spirit of the Plains," "Finney County Agriculture," "Take Stock in Finney County," "My Place in Time," a participatory children's area entitled "Celebrate Kansas," a period clothing dress-up area styled like a room of the historic Windsor Hotel, and the 1884 William Fulton House.

Museum admission is free and most exhibits are open with summer hours of 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. Fulton House tours are offered 2 to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Tours of the adjacent one-room Pleasant Valley School are provided by request on an as-available basis.

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