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AN INTERVIEW WITH THEATRE KANSAS

LOCAL ACTOR RAISES LGBTQIA VOICES WITH VOTER REGISTRATION TOUR

by CLARK BENT

October 15, 2020

 

Back in 2019, when actor/writer Brett Crandall relocated from New York City to his home state of Kansas, he had more on his mind than just touring with his budding theatre company. “I moved back to vote,” Crandall declared during a Q&A at Garden City Community College as part of his queer-voter initiative. “In New York, I was a dime a dozen. But in Kansas, I stick out like a sore thumb and turns out that really matters.”

With the 2020 election upon us, Crandall, an openly gay actor, writer, producer, puppeteer, and activist, reached out to LGBTQIA student-led groups on college campuses across Kansas, promoting his QUEER KANSAS VOTER REGISTRATION TOUR. Each event began with voter registration with local volunteers or resources from HeadCount.org, followed by a performance of an interactive, LGBTQIA-inclusive murder mystery.

When asked how the show went, Crandall said hopefully, “Holding these events for young, queer people has been a humbling honor and dream come true. It’s hard to picture Rainbow flags flying in rural areas, so to see these queer student-leaders rise to this pivotal moment in history feels like I actually get to witness real change.”

Students at Wichita State University got to experience the tour virtually, as COVID-19 restrictions made it necessary to adapt to online shows. Garden City Community College’s PRISM group, however, brought the event to their students, making it the first in-person event on campus this school year. The limited capacity and masks worn by volunteers only made for more hilarity during Crandall’s performance of his original murder mystery, Murder at the Wolf Hotel.

Sophomore Dalton Janousek, acting as the president of PRISM, GCCC’s LGBTQIA student group, introduced the event. “Being the first event on campus was really awesome, especially because the type of event we held was very important. I was super excited about the attendance on hand and how many people were able to register to vote.” Janousek explained passionately that this year it was crucial for young people to know how to navigate the unprecedented election year and voting processes. “I was so happy to see people getting the information they needed. Not only was this event guided toward our LGBT students but also our straight allies.” Janousek and Crandall hope this is the first of many civic outreach events to come.

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PRISM members w/ Crandall in the Pauline Joyce Arts Building Lobby

(Left to right) Ulises Lopez, Ariana Arizpe, Dalton Janousek, Brett Crandall, Kristin Price

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The cast of volunteer suspects from Murder at the Wolf Hotel

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Wichita State University's Spectrum group hosted Crandall's first online live show, registering many first-time voters before randomly casting the show.

Student Reviews

"It was a great show. Really enjoyed it!"

"10/10. Would get investigated by Detective DePew again."

"Entertaining"

"I had a lovely time"

"Really great performance!"

"Wonderful experience!"

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Crandall McCord at Wolf Hotel

Crandall (left) and McCord outisde the Historic Wolf Hotel

MURDER MYSTERY SHOW HOPES TO BOOST KANSAS TOURISM

by CLARK BENT

October 16, 2020

 

When Chris McCord, owner of the Historic Wolf Hotel in Ellinwood, Kansas called performing artist Brett Crandall, it didn’t take long for the two to realize they have plenty in common. They are both passionate entrepreneurs. Both have very big ideas. But the two also share a unique and personal drive to showcase the wholesome, yet gritty charm of the Sunflower State to the world.

MURDER AT THE WOLF HOTEL, a new interactive murder-mystery play, was written by Brett Crandall, founder of the touring theatre troupe Brett Crandall Studios, where one bumbling detective sleuths out which of the suspects, plucked right from the audience, is guilty.

After a brief tour of the remarkably restored landmark, Crandall began to piece together a comedy riddled with crimes, but with a larger goal in mind then just selling out one show. Set in Prohibition-Era Kansas, the 45-minute, one-man show hopes to shed light on the lives of disenfranchised Kansas, such as interracial and LGBTQ+ couples, one-hundred years ago, offering historical context left out of the history books.

“It’s so exciting,” Crandall said explaining the importance of storytelling in Kansas. “The world has always been enamored by Kansas’ quaint backdrop. So, having this show double as a history lesson, we can dispel myths about what minorities experienced a hundred years ago and may still experience today,” Crandall articulated. “It’s really about how we interpret legality and morality, but told in rhyme with lots of fun shenanigans for the whole family. I hope to bring as much tourism as I can to The Historic Wolf Hotel and can’t wait to perform there again.”

Since its debut in the hotel’s Sunflower Dining Room, MURDER AT THE WOLF HOTEL has also brought laughs to audiences in Satanta, Garden City, Lawrence, Liberal, and Crandall’s hometown of Deerfield, as well as virtually for students at Wichita State University. Next, Crandall will be performing the live show in WaKeeney at Jake and Chet’s Café and Sundowner Lounge, just off I-70, on Sunday, Oct 25 at 1pm. Free entry with complimentary dessert is sponsored by WaKeeney Public Library. Crandall also has a weekly residency in Liberal at Baker Arts Center on Oct 27, Nov 10, and Nov 24 at 7pm with a free-will donation for entry. To book a stay at The Historic Wolf Hotel, visit historicwolfhotel.com. To learn more about Brett Crandall Studios and his upcoming shows, visit BrettCrandallStudios.com.