Like many families involved with the Legend of Rawhide, the Andrews-Langston family helped to found not only the community of Lusk, but the Legend of Rawhide as well. In 1946 at the first Legend of Rawhide performance Joe Andrews and his father Shorty Andrews played Indian Braves. They road with that rough crowd until 1959 when they transitioned to the wagon train until the final show in 1965. Emiko Andrews, Joe’s wife would put in countless hours sewing costumes and Shorty not only drove a team but also provided the chicken since he was the “egg and chicken man” in Lusk.
Twenty years later, Joe’s daughter Norma Andrews-Langston would return to Lusk and take on the part of the Indian Princess when the pageant was revived in 1986. She would portray the ill-fated princess for three years, 1986, 87 and 89. She then transitioned to become one of the voices of the Legend. Norma provides the voice of the narrator for the introduction, the character of Jane Farley and various other female voices as needed.
In the early nineties her two children Jonna and Ethan would join the wagon train as young children. Jonna would then eventually join the Indian Village while Ethan found he preferred lending his vocal talents from the sound booth as well. Ethan voiced Clyde Picket from 2003 to 2011 as well as other voices as needed. Jonna followed in her mother’s footsteps and played the Indian Princess full time from 2007-2009.
While both children left Lusk to pursue other endeavors it is with pleasure that Norma will welcome them both back this year. Ethan will be joining his mother once again in the sound booth and Jonna will be learning the ropes high in the sky from the crows nest as well.
When asked about her favorite memory from the last 33 years of Legend performances Norma speaks of watching Eva Lou Bonsell direct the entire show from horseback. She says it was an energizing and amazing display of competence and passion that she will never forget. She is also so proud of the fact that this is a tradition that she has been able to carry on with her children that was started by her grandfather.
Andrews-Langston points out that she feels this community has done a remarkable job of preserving the essence of the show. While technology may change and the world culture might shift, the Legend of Rawhide always attempts to stay true the intention of that first show.
As one of the voices of the legend Norma and her fellow vocal performers, Willy Wilcox and Ross Dierks help bring the Legend to life. Without their expertise in timing and their knowledge of the scripting the Legend would not carry with it the intensity or emotional impact. From Norma’s resounding conclusion to her introduction when her voice rings with pride and anticipation as she says “The Legend of the Rawhide Buttes” to the no-nonsense tone of Jane Farley as she tries to convince Jim that the women folk should be given rifles to fight too, Norma lends her vast experience in theatre and her love and passion to a script that could be dated and hokey, but instead becomes a tribute to the heritage of the west and the resilience of a community. It is safe to say that the Legend would not be the same experience without those voices.
The Legend of Rawhide is fortunate and honored to recognize this year’s dedication family, Norma, Jonna and Ethan Langston.