Old ampitheater friends will never be forgotten

By Don McAlavy: Curry historian

The historical drama of New Mexico’s most notorious outlaw opened to a large crowd at the Caprock Amphitheater back in the 1980s. Clovis playwright Don McAlavy created a colorful drama in “Billy the Kid,” which he created using known facts with a little imagination, about a dark period in the history of New Mexico.

The Lincoln County War formed the crux of this production, which successfully breaches the gap between history and entertainment.

McAlavy not only wrote the play, but he came close to totally stealing the show. Playing the ruffian Olinger, McAlavy had the meanest squint to his eyes and carried an ornery double-barreled shotgun. Complete with a Southwestern drawl, and his sidekick, Segura, played by Wayne Buchanan, McAlavy provided a lot of laughter for the audience.

Billy the Kid, played by Joe Wellborn, a sophomore at Eastern New Mexico University-Portales campus, also performed well. Wellborn ably portrayed the irrational Billy the Kid, who had every chance to give up the wild life and accept a pardon from Gov. Lew Wallace, played by Ken Stenz of Tucumcari.

Sheriff Pat Garrett is a part admirably performed by Steve Cormier, who worked as a cowboy on a ranch near Santa Rosa. Cormier fit easily into the part and looked as though he belonged in the saddle.

No cowboy legend drama would be complete without a beautiful maiden to tempt the hero’s or outlaw’s heart. That part was Abrana Carcia, played by the capable Jane McNulty of Cannon Air Force Base. Mrs. McNulty also showed her talent in singing and dancing. Billy is in love with her.

Back here in the end of 2009, one of the boys, Fred Fair, who played a great part in the “Billy the Kid” show at the Caprock Amphitheater, e-mailed me. This is what he said: “I left the prestige of a government job a little over three years ago. Me and my kids went into a partnership deal on a cow-calf ranch 40 miles or so southwest of Casper, Wyo. We run about 170 head of mother cows, and I farm a couple of hundred acres of hay. All in all, just a great place to raise my boys. Steve Cormier and his lady friend came to visit us last summer for a week or so. My dad clips your columns out and sends them to me when he thinks it might be someone I know or remember. I took a fast ball to the head last summer and am still having a hard time remembering some stuff. The Clovis News Journal should have a link to your articles just to save my dad postage. Let me know how you are doing!”

Fred Fair and all the cast members of the show that ran from the last of the 1980s into most of the 1990s at the Caprock Amphitheater are a remembrance that none of us will ever forget. Adios Amigos!