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Goodhue County Sheriff Scott McNurlin plays Bat Masterson in "In the Company of Legends."

McNurlin dons new uniform for role in western play

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For local residents, it's a familiar sight to see Goodhue County Sheriff Scott McNurlin sporting a white button-up long-sleeved shirt with an American flag patch, dark brown pants and a matching necktie.

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But those who catch him at the Sheldon Theatre Saturday Oct. 20 can expect a uniform that's much more old-fashioned.

The sheriff will don a bowler hat, ascot and cowboy boots complete with spurs for a part he's playing in "In the Company of Legends," a play set during the late 1890s.

While McNurlin's uniform may be different, his role will not be entirely new.

McNurlin is portraying Bat Masterson, a complex figure of the Old West who held a number of different careers including saloon keeper, sports writer and, fittingly, sheriff.

"So we have a little bit in common," McNurlin said.

Taking on the characteristics of a man from the American frontier is no new task for McNurlin.

"I've been doing this kind of stuff for about 20 years now," he said. "It's a nice distraction for me to get away from the everyday grind."

His hobby developed when he began doing living history entertainment with a group called the Old West Society of Minnesota. Since starting, McNurlin has played everything from a frontier man to an outlaw.

Eventually, he and a few friends were getting asked to take part in city celebrations, commercials and small movies.

"We were getting so many requests to do this kind of work that we just kind of started this company," McNurlin explained.

The company is called Frontier Legends Entertainment, and its members make up the cast of "In the Company of Legends."

All residents of southeastern Minnesota, the men portray William "Buffalo Bill" Cody, Wyatt Earp, Pecos Bill, Bat Masterson and Elliot Longfellow. The play was written by three of the actors in 2008 and has since taken off.

"Because it's an original play, people are interested in having it. We've been all over the United States doing this kind of stuff," McNurlin said, referring to gigs in Denver, Colo., North Platte, Neb., Deadwood, S.D., and McGregor, Iowa, in addition to several southeastern Minnesota locations.

But even though the men have performed "In the Company of Legends" at venues in Pine Island, Mantorville and Lanesboro, Minn., they hadn't planned a performance in Red Wing until now.

Local residents can see their own sheriff take to the Sheldon Theatre stage Saturday Oct. 20. McNurlin said he's looking forward to bringing the production closer to home.

"I'm really excited about it," he said. "I think it's going to be a lot of fun."

If you go...

What: "In the Company of Legends" play

Where: Sheldon Theatre

When: 7 p.m. Saturday Oct. 20

Cost: $17.50 for adults, $11.50 for students

More info: www.sheldontheatre.org/events/legends

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