Viva El Paso!  El Paso, TX

On August 6, we went to the McKelligon Canyon Ampitheater with a couple of friends to see the production of Viva El Paso!.  The setting is in the Franklin Mountains, a beautiful desert landscape.  There are other productions put on at this theater, but Viva El Paso! is the primary one.  The stage is open at the back to the canyon, so you can see the three permanent buildings up on the hillside, which are part of this production.   

Before you even go into the theater, there is a large area with tables and vendors, and if you get there early enough there is entertainment.  The night we went it was a classical guitarist who was playing popular songs.  In addition, when you go into the theater there is a pre-show with costumed dance groups from various regions in Mexico, which is a lot of fun.

Viva El Paso tells the story of how this city came to be, covering the 420+ year history through dance, song, and dialog.  The premise for the show is a grandmother explaining the importance of tradition to her granddaughter who is about to be married.  The young woman doesn’t see any point in paying attention to tradition until she hears the story behind it.  The show starts and ends with a production dance number in sequined costumes, with the six flags that have flown over the state of Texas:  Mexico, Spain, France, Texas, the Confederacy, and the United States of America.  From there it starts into the history, including the native Americans and the other countries.  The sets are simple, the costumes beautiful.  The singing wasn’t great, but it did the job.  The players are all very energetic, and the look of the production was quite professional, though simple.  We were amazed to find out that everyone involved in the production is a volunteer.  It takes a couple of hours to tell the story, with a 15-minute intermission.

We have seen quite a few Las Vegas-style shows on cruise ships.  The costumes for them are quite complicated.  In this show, much of the time the dancers were wearing simple long, tiered, very full skirts.  They would swirl the skirts, creating beautiful patterns with them.  For the Las Vegas-style shows the effect is achieved using lots of tulle.  The effect in Viva’s production with the swirling full skirts is far more beautiful.

Viva El Paso runs from early June to mid-August.  It is a show well worth seeing.  It is very inspiring to learn about the city’s history through the eyes of people whose ancestors were involved in the formation and growth of the city.  We are looking forward to seeing the show again.

These photos shows the beautiful setting in which we got to view the production.

NOTE:  About a year after we attended the show it was discontinued due to problems surrounding the director.  There has been talk about reinstating the show, but to the best of our knowledge that has not happened.

Original post August 13, 2010

© Susan L. Stone 2015