The occasion for Scott’s resurrection will be the Ouray Historical Society’s annual Vignettes of History program, a fundraiser for the county museum.
Scott will be played by Judy Winnick, president of “Legendary Ladies,” an acting troupe from the Denver area who portray women of the West after carefully researching their characters for accuracy, even down to their clothes.
The hour-long performance by Legendary Ladies will feature characters including Tomboy Bride author Harriett Fish Backus, Calamity Jane, Little Egypt, Carrie Nation, Mother Cabrini and Capt. Jack, a female miner and entrepreneur from Gunnison.
“When you see Captain Jack, you’ll start laughing,” Winnick said.
The show will end with a depiction of Katharine Lee Bates, a Massachusetts English teacher who wrote “America the Beautiful” after an inspirational trip to Pikes Peak while she was teaching in Colorado Springs during the summer of 1893.
Tickets for the Legendary Ladies performance are $25 and include coffee, candy and cookies after the performance.
But the benefit starts earlier, at 5 p.m., when for a $79 donation you can attend a reception (cash bar and hors d’oeuvres) at Venue Roscoe Fox followed by “an elegant dinner” with a choice of entrees at the Tundra Restaurant in the Beaumont Hotel. The donation also includes tickets to the show at the Wright and the after-show reception.
For ticket information, call the Ouray County Historical Museum at 325-4576.
Winnick said she’s been fascinated for a long time with Scott, and all the troupe members take as much as a year to research each character. She said her depiction of Scott is historically accurate and many of the local legends about Scott are true, such as, she never wore a pair of laundered jeans, and she was as much a philanthropist as an astute businesswoman and successful rancher.
“She’d get a new pair of jeans, and when they got dirty, she would give them away with money still in the pockets,” Winnick said. “That’s the main reason I chose her. We didn’t have a rancher, and I fell in love with her generosity and tenacity and feistiness. And I’m not tall. I’m about her height.”
According to the Legendary Ladies’ website, they were founded in 1992 as an educational, nonprofit historical group and a women’s performance organization. Their shows are suitable for all ages and feature “historically accurate stories of unique Western women.”
The relationship between Legendary Ladies and the Ouray historical museum began after Winnick met museum board member Gail Saunders while visiting the museum to do research on Marie Scott.
Getting Legendary Ladies was a perfect fit for Vignettes of History, now in its fourth year, Saunders said.
About 22 women form Legendary Ladies, Winnick said, and 16 of them are coming to perform in Ouray. The troupe is under the artistic direction of Kyle Neidt, academic advisor for theater and dance at the University of Colorado at Boulder, she said.
“We pick a character we feel connected to, do all the research about the character and write our own scripts,” Winnick said. “Kyle gives us suggestions, and we write and rewrite, but the biggest thing is to get it to a five-minute monologue.”
Costumes are as authentic as possible, but Winnick fudges a little by giving Marie Scott fringe on her jacket – something she would never have worn – because it makes her look more like a rancher on stage.
Scott believed in working hard and taking care of people, Winnick said. Even during the Great Depression, when Scott bought out many failing ranches around her, she let the former owners stay on if they needed to.
“I portray her as feisty and use a lot of her quotes, but she was a private person and reminded me of my parents,” Winnick said. “She was very generous but did it with anonymity. She found out who needed things and made sure they had turkeys for the holidays.”
Scott didn’t like holidays much – she’d rather be working – and often said she “worked from 5 to 8 and ranch hands worked from 8 to 5,” Winnick said.
But she had a huge heart, and even took care of her ex-husband when he needed it, she said.
“After her divorce and her husband remarried and then was sick and suffering, she hired him back as a ranch hand and took care of him.”
At Ridgway State Park on Saturday, Aug. 20, Winnick will perform a one-woman show, Meet Marie Scott, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. For more information, call the park at 626-5822.