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Virginia City: Trains, Follies, & Players

Once home to outlaws, riches, and a vibrant 1860s entrepreneurial spirit, Virginia City welcomes visitors to discover its colorful past every June through Labor Day. Stroll the streets of the remarkably well-preserved downtown where many of the nineteenth century boomtown buildings still stand at their original location. While you’re there, be sure to check out the town’s famous train, follies, and players, three entertainment values sure to delight both young and old.

First up, the Alder Gulch Short Line escorts passengers from Virginia City to Nevada City on historic Baldwin Steam Engine #12. The 1.25-mile trip includes entertaining narratives from the train’s engineer, and visitors learn fascinating tidbits about the area’s history. The train operates from early June through late August, and an admission fee is charged.

The next venue to hit the spotlight is the Illustrious Virginia City Players. Recognized as Montana’s oldest professional theater, the Players have created a 56-year history of successful performances and crowd-pleasing fun. The Players feature some of America’s finest directors, designers, and actors, and the authentic Victorian plays and side-splitting vaudeville variety shows are showcased in Virginia City’s old Opera House. 2005 season shows include “The Canterville Ghost,” “The Moonstone,” and “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” Performances include daily evening shows at 7 PM and weekend matinees at 2 PM from June through Labor Day. Reservations are highly encouraged; call 1-800-829-2969 for tickets.

Catering mostly to adults with its cabaret atmosphere and comedy, satire, and ad-libbing, the Brewery Follies has been a Virginia City fixture since 1984. Each captivating show takes place in Montana’s first brewery, a building dating back to 1863 and German-born brewmeister, H.S. Gilbert. Boisterous laughter is guaranteed as the show’s actors entertain with comedy sketches, musical pieces, and social and political commentary. At the same time, patrons can sample a Montana microbrew or an old-fashioned soda. Performances are provided early June through Labor Day with showtimes at 8 PM Wednesday through Sunday and a bit tamer matinee at 4 PM Monday through Friday. The shows generally sell out, so reservations are highly recommended; call (406) 843-5218.

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