Review: Texas (the musical), Palo Duro Canyon

“TEXAS, the outdoor musical drama” is a broadway-quality production put on outdoors in the middle of the spectacular Palo Duro Canyon.

The show begins on a grand scale with the lone horseman on top of a 600 foot cliff in the distance, waving the Texas state flag, a burst of fireworks, the music starts and the rider gallops away. On the stage in front of us, the cast of more than 60 actors, singers and dancers launch into the story of the Texas panhandle. A drama that tells of cattlemen and farmers at odds over the future of the land.

With plenty of song and dance, and quite a bit of humor, the show takes us through history via a fictional drama that highlights the struggles and triumphs of the europeans who settled here. Fireworks, pyrotechnics, sophisticated lighting and a whole set of hollywood-level special effects, turn the entire canyon into part of the show, and that is arguably the most exciting and truly unique aspect of this production. More than “just” a musical drama, “Texas” is an experience for the senses.

The venue, The Pioneer Amphitheater, is a natural basin in the Palo Duro Canyon, fitted out to make a comfortable seating area that allows the production to be played in three dimensions, the stage immediately in front of us, the middle ground of the canyon behind the stage, and the far ground of the cliffs above.

This show has been running annually for over 45 years, and is enjoyed by locals as well as visitors. “TEXAS” was the brainchild of Margaret Harper, who in 1960 read an article in Reader’s Digest about a playwright, Paul Green, who had recreated the history of several regions in ambitious dramas complete with pageantry and music. Harper began a correspondence with Green, and at the same time reached out to friends and colleagues to support the creation of an outdoor theater in Palo Duro. “TEXAS” opened on the stage of the Pioneer Amphitheater in the summer of 1966.

It remains a great evening of entertainment in an amazingly beautiful and unique location, and you might even learn a thing or two about local history!

(Definitely sign up for the Texas BBQ Dinner before the show, which is served by the Big Texan Steakhouse (itself an area legend, famed for the free 72 oz. steak — “free” on condition that you eat the whole thing!). The BBQ is served right outside the amphitheater in a space with a comfortable covered patio. There is music and a county-fair atmosphere until showtime.)


Details: TEXAS (website): 1514 5th Avenue • Canyon, Texas 79015 • Tel: 806-655-2181 • Fax: 806-655-4730. A Lone Horseman, carrying the flag of the great state of Texas appears atop a 600 foot cliff, signaling the beginning of the most spectacular outdoor musical drama in the world. With a burst of fireworks and a moving swell of the music, the horseman gallops away. Suddenly, a cast of more than 60 actors, singers and dancers takes the stage to kick off the show that millions of fans from all around the world have come to see. Only a state as big as Texas could host a show as big as TEXAS!

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