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Sun, May 31

A new kind of melodrama in the works for Tusayan
Western Experience Museum to be transformed into old west themed dinner theater and steakhouse

Ryan Williams/WGCN<br>
ClayAnn Cook stands where an old fashioned bar and food service area will end in what will soon be a new steakhouse at the Wild West Experience, a dining and entertainment establishment to be located in the former Western Discovery Museum in Tusayan.

Ryan Williams/WGCN<br> ClayAnn Cook stands where an old fashioned bar and food service area will end in what will soon be a new steakhouse at the Wild West Experience, a dining and entertainment establishment to be located in the former Western Discovery Museum in Tusayan.

TUSAYAN, Ariz. - Nightly dinner theater entertainment is on the horizon in downtown Tusayan.

According to ClayAnn Cook, the Western Discovery Museum, located off Highway 64, is currently undergoing a transformation and will emerge as an old west themed dining and entertainment establishment.

"Our vision is to create the Wild West Experience which is basically two different dining venues," Cook said.

A dinner theater with seatings twice nightly will be located in what used to be the museum portion of the building. An old west saloon themed steak house will be located in the front of the building.

The steakhouse will feature an antique back bar along with wainscoting, punched in ceilings and an old potbelly stove among other period décor. Cook said the restaurant will feature outdoor patio dining as well.

The facility will also feature an old fashioned bakery and fudge candy shop with coffee and teas and an activities center where guests will be able to book air tours and other recreational activities.

The main dining room will feature a large stage complete with heavy red curtains and antique player piano. The venue will only be open from 4 p.m. to midnight allowing the space to be used for group functions earlier in the day.

"As the past president of the Chamber of Commerce Board, one of the things is that Tusayan lacks meeting room and convention space," Cook said. "We lack function space for the community. We can't do any kind of conventions in town right now. We can't do anything with anybody out of Phoenix. They quit asking."

According to Cook, the dinner theater will provide a social component as well as an entertaining dining experience.

"You're going to sit down with a couple from France or another couple you come with," Cook said.

Officials with the venue, owned by Elling Halvorsen and the Stilo Group, have enlisted Lorna Luft, Judy Garland's daughter and performer in her own right, along with Luft's husband Colin Freeman to create a one of a kind theater show styled as an old west melodrama with music and family comedy.

"We actually went two weeks to look at what potentially our show could look like," Cook said. "We want to make sure the visitor that comes is absolutely totally delighted with the show as well as delighted by the food."

An opening date for the venue has yet to be determined.

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