Guns, Gals and Gangsters: Boomtown Tells a Tale of Lawlessness in 1920s Texas

Boomtown is Crank Collective’s third and final installment of their Texas History Musical series.  It’s a musical comedy set in the 1920s about the most dangerous city in Texas. The show opens Wednesday, May 21 and runs through Saturday, May 24. Visit the Long Center site for tickets

John Cecil, Boomtown director, shares some background on the story:

Bonnie and Clyde, Machine Gun Kelly, the Santa Claus Bank Robbers – gangsters as ruthless as Al Capone – once marauded across Texas in the 1920s. In the midst of Prohibition, Texas was overrun with guns, gambling, moonshine, morphine and bandits, making it the perfect setting for Crank Collective’s upcoming musical comedy Boomtown.

Oil strikes in the Panhandle in the 1920s brought big, fast money to the area. For clever developers like Ace Borger- Boomtown’s protagonist, for which the Texas town is named – a $10,000 investment turned into $100,000 in just one day. By selling land and lumber to oil workers, their families, and the businesses that raced to town, Borger proved he was a master at making money. Many of these new businesses that set up shop were shady: dance halls, casinos, opium dens known as “hospitals,” and drug stores with liquor for sale in the back.

It wasn’t all chaos.  The town’s sheriff, “Two Gun” Dick Herwig, insisted only his own brand of bootleg liquor to be sold, so he flavored each batch with chalk. Anyone caught with non-chalked beer or liquor was subject to confiscation and a pistol whipping.

After the District Attorney was assassinated in 1927, the Texas Rangers were called in to restore peace.  The leader of this force was Ranger Frank Hamer, the man later responsible for the violent end of Bonnie and Clyde. The town of Borger was pacified; even Ace Borger “got his” from a rival in a post office shoot-out.

Using first-person narratives and photographs of early Borger, Crank Collective developed Boomtown–a musical comedy rife with gangsters, wildcatters, dance hall girls, and near-authentic music from a live band. This wild-but-true tale is the third installment of Crank Collective’s Texas History Musical series. For this production, Crank Collective gives Boomtown audiences a glimpse of life in Texas just before the onset of the Great Depression.

Boomtown opens Wednesday, May 21 and runs through Saturday, May 24. Visit the Long Center site for tickets.

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