Virginia City Players oral histories, 2023 August

Overview of the Collection

Schindler, Daniel De, 1971-; Montana State University (Bozeman, Mont.). Library
Virginia City Players oral histories
2023 August
4 items, (four video recordings)
Collection Number
Oral histories conducted by Daniel Schindler with past and present staff of the Virginia City (MT) Players: Mike Verdon, Don Fuhrman, Eric Lawrence Barsness, BJ Barsness Douglas, and Catherine Dixon.
Montana State University Library, Merrill G. Burlingame Special Collections
Montana State University-Bozeman Library
Merrill G Burlingame Special Collections
P.O. Box 173320
Bozeman, MT
Telephone: 4069944242
Fax: 4069942851
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Funded by an Opportunity Grant from Humanities Montana.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Oral histories conducted by Daniel Schindler with past and present staff of the Virginia City (MT) Players: Mike Verdon, Don Fuhrman, Eric Lawrence Barsness, B.J. Barsness Douglas, and Catherine Dixon. Topics discussed include the founding of the theater company, development of its cabaret style, the relationship with Charlie and Sue Bovey's work to preserve the town, and the transition to state ownership of the historic assets.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

The Illustrious Virginia City Players perform melodrama and vaudeville in the Virginia City Opera House in Virginia City, Montana. Founded in 1948 by Larry Barsness, the Players were related to Charles Bovey's efforts to restore the historic mining town. The Historic Landmarks Society, incorporated in 1944, focused its work on restoring first the Montana Post building, then other historic structures in Virginia City. By attracting tourists to Virginia City, which also contributed to attracting notice from the film industry, the Players contributed to the preservation of this small mining town.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Description Dates
2722-001-001: BJ Barsness and Eric Barsness
BJ Barsness and Eric Barsness talk about their father, Larry Barsness. They discuss his work as a founding member of the Illustrious Virginia City Players and the first director of the company, recalling growing up on stage in Virginia City in the 1950s and the early members of the company. They also talk about his later work as an author, artist, and professor of English at the University of Montana. This presentation took place in Virginia City's restored Frank Bird Linderman Cabin. It was sponsored by the Virginia City Preservation Alliance as part of their lecture series "Actors, Artists, and Authors" in the summer of 2023.
2023 August 13th
2722-001-004: Michael Verdon
Michael is the owner, director, and performer at the Brewery Follies and has been performing there since 1988. He discusses the history of the Virginia City Players, their development in the 1940s and 1950s and the relationship to Charles and Sue Bovey's work restoring Virginia City, as well as Bovey restorations and the shift from private to state ownership of the town. He talks about the development of the company's modern cabaret style, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on performances, and its future in the community.
2023 August 8
2722-001-003: Don Fuhrman
Don Fuhrman discusses his experience as an actor at the HS Gilbert Brewery and the Opera House. He speaks of his work as a Montana actor, his early days at the Opera House, his work at the Brewery Follies, as well as the town of Virginia City (MT). Don continued to work at the Brewery Follies and was part of the Players for 22 seasons beginning in 1996.
2023 August 8
2722-001-002: Catherine Dixon
Catherine Dixon was a scenic designer, technical director, and scenic artist for the players in 1984 – 1985 and 1996. She discusses how she came to Virginia City and her work as a theatre artist with Opera House under the direction of Bruce Hurlbut and BJ Barsness. Catherine became a long-term resident of Virginia City.
2023 August 14

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Actors
  • Artists--Montana
  • Summer theater--Montana--Virginia City

Corporate Names

  • Virginia City Players
  • Virginia City Preservation Alliance

Form or Genre Terms

  • Oral histories