Theater Of The Badlands

On the edge of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the North Dakota Badlands sits the tiny town of Medora.

This stark and windswept landscape is home to buffalo, deer and elk. It also is home to the memory of President Theodore Roosevelt, who lived here as a young man.

For the 35th summer, Medora is remembering "TR" with a production of the Medora Musical, performed nightly from June 2 through Sept. 3 in the Burning Hills Amphitheater, carved into the side of a Badlands canyon.

The town has just 100 residents but the show draws about 1,000 people a night. The cast of Burning Hills Singers, a troupe of cowboys and cowgirls, dance, sing, clog, and yodel their way through the warm summer nights. They are backed by the Medora Philharmonic, a five-piece band including a banjo and a steel guitar.

The show incorporates several variety acts from Argentinean drummers to Far East circus performers. This year, the Chinese Golden Dragon Acrobats contort their forms in amazing displays of skill and artistry.

Audiences are awed when the stage splits in half during the show, revealing a gorgeous view of the moonlit Badlands.

Theodore Roosevelt makes an appearance, and kids of today get their chance to perform on stage. In case anyone gets hungry, there's always plenty of "pitchfork fondue," rib-eye steak deep-fried in oil.

It was here that Theodore Roosevelt developed his passion for preserving our natural wonders. "My experience when I lived and worked in North Dakota with my fellow ranchmen, on what was then the frontier, was the most important educational asset of my life," said Teddy Roosevelt. Now, every summer, this small town returns the compliment.

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