Hatteberg's People - Duane West

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

On Hatteberg's People, In Garden City, retired attorney Duane West has an appreciation of art in all its disciplines. Twenty years ago, he had an idea...to write amusical about one of Garden City's founders. His name was Charles Jesse 'Buffalo' Jones. Jones is credited with saving America'sBuffalo from extinction. Duane West, found that part of history to befascinating.

"This is a monumental thing, for someone to save aspecies and to start a town."

So with little background in music, and no play-writingexperience West began the process of creating a musical.

Two decades laterhe finished it.

Over the years, West took piano lessons to help with themusic. Then he recruited professionalsto assist him. Phillip Hoke is thedirector of play.

(Phillip Hoke) "You have to admire his dedication tothe process, and his passion for the writing itself. As a playwright, that's another thing thatinterested me, giving him the opportunity to see his play on stage and hisvision realized."

In Duane's living room, he wrote the play in longhand.

"I know I didn't realize just how hard it was goingto be to do this."

So, over the years, his musical, 'Dream your Dreams: TheBuffalo Jones story became a reality...and rehearsals last week were makingDuane's own dream come true.

"To me there has been a great deal of satisfactionin being able to achieve a goal that you have for yourself."

Garden City loves Buffalo Jones. The town's founder is seen in many ways. From the streets, to the courthouse lawn, theman who was friends of presidents and made legend by writer Zane Gray in hisbook "The Last of The Plainsmen".

"I thinkit is important that people know that past, so they can see what the future isgoing to become."

Duane West is alsopart of Garden City history. He was theChief Prosecutor of the Clutter murderers. Perry Smith and Richard Hickock killed four members of a Holcomb, Kansasfamily when West was County Attorney. Those killings spawned Truman Capote's book, 'In Cold Blood'.

"The Clutter thing was just a sad, sad tale."

In later years, West prides himself on discovering JesseMontez, an artist who makes cardboard art in unbelievable intricate andcomplicated forms.

West and his wife love the arts, so the play was anatural extension of his interests.

"If I had know it was going to be as much work aswhen I had started, but then I'm Scotch-Irish and once I get started withsomething I don't like to turn loose."

"It's been a labor of love as I tell people."

"I don't know what the end result is going to be,but I hope this will be something I will be remembered as ....as a person whowrote the show, 'Dream Your Dreams'.

Duane West wrote over 40 songs for theproduction. It debuted this weekend atthe Fine Arts Building at Garden City Community College. All proceeds from the play, went to theFinney County United Way. West hopes tohave the show performed in other venues across the country.

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