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Posted 27 Aug 2001   For week ended August 17, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 22Aug01

By Rosemary Pollock

Benson Gristmill Pageant Tells Little-Known Tooele Story

STANSBURY PARK, UTAH -- The Old Benson gristmill came to life with light, music and sound as a panoramic sunset gave way to the Big Dipper for the sixth annual Benson Gristmill Pageant. The 135-member costumed cast told the history of hardship and conflict in Tooele with horse-drawn wagons, local livestock and a three-story wooden mill constructed in the early 1850's.

"If we are actors in a drama, as the Bard would have us believe, then certainly Latter-day Saints have produced a script and players as dramatic as there have ever been," wrote Carl Arrington in a 1977 New Era magazine story that traced the roots of pageants and road shows held throughout Utah. "The Mormon story is a complete drama with characters, conflicts, action, morality, tragedy and comedy," Arrington wrote.

Christie Steadman, the pageant producer, said the idea for the Tooele production came in 1996 while they were looking for ways to celebrate Utah's centennial statehood. "We decided to write it ourselves around the events in Toole County history," she said. "The Lee family, some of the first settlers of Tooele County, had a lot of information and we took the literary license to make it into a story line." "It took us a year to write it. We were rehearsing the first scenes as we wrote the end," she said.

The pageant is sponsored by Tooele County and the Benson Gristmill Historic Site and tells stories of the Pony Express, the election of the Liberal Party that overturned the Mormon control of the community, Goshute Indians, the Gold Rush and the ethnic origins of the miners and workers of the Tooele Valley Railroad. A highlight in the production is a story of the 1892 Polynesian Pioneer Day in the settlement of Iosepa.

Music for the pageant was written by Gary Swan and the two-hour-long pageant is narrated by writer, Maxine Grimm. It begins Thursday night at 8:45 p.m. and will run until Monday.


Pioneer Utah Comes to Life in Pageant
Salt Lake Tribune 11Aug01 D6
By Tom Wharton: Salt Lake Tribune


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