THE DEFEAT OF JESSE JAMES to be Presented at History Theatre This Spring

The Defeat of Jesse James runs April 29-May 28, 2023. Tickets are on sale now.

By: Mar. 31, 2023
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THE DEFEAT OF JESSE JAMES to be Presented at History Theatre This Spring

History Theatre will present the world premiere of The Defeat of Jesse James book by Jeffrey Hatcher and music and lyrics by Chan Poling. It is the last gig for Jesse James: a one-night-only farewell concert starring America's most notorious desperado. Join Jesse as he recreates his spectacular rise and fall in this Wild West Show and Honky Tonk cabaret, with a Grand Finale at a place called Northfield, Minnesota. Directed by History Theatre's new Artistic Director Richard D. Thompson, The Defeat of Jesse James runs April 29-May 28, 2023. Tickets are on sale now.

The creative team behind the smash hit musical Glensheen is ready to bring a less-than-empathetic lead character in Jesse James to life on stage. Poling shared, "It took us a couple of drafts to remember that you can be entertained by and learn from, long as they are interesting. And Jesse James is not the iconic, notorious, celebrity outlaw for naught. It is a world filled with rich characters and extreme stakes. We found all that worth thinking about, laughing about, and singing about."

Composer Chan Poling draws musical inspiration from artists such as Elvis Presley, The Band, 1970s Outlaw Country, The Eagles, Johnny Cash, and classic country ballads. Get ready to rock out in your seats in this new musical adventure exploring Jesse James' life and the fall from grace.

According to Hatcher, America has always had a fondness for desperados, but we tend to clean them up and make their crimes palatable, sometimes even noble. "That's why we often prefer the fictionalized versions to the real thing: Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, Marlon Brando, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis and Johnny Depp (we love them until we don't)."

Previous eras saw Jesse James as a doomed hero, the kind of sympathetic outlaw played by actors like Tyrone Power, Robert Wagner, and Brad Pitt, said Hatcher. "Today, it is tempting to dismiss him as irredeemable, deplorable. Jesse James is what is now called a problematic character, inseparable from the politics and culture of his time: slavery, the Civil War, the brutality of the border state militias, and the Lost Cause. But the theater is filled with problematic characters, often based on real people: Oedipus, Richard III, Hedda Gabbler, Willy Loman, Mama Rose, Troy Maxson, and Roy Cohn. To write about history is to wrestle both with the past and with our own incomplete grasp of it."

"What we can say with certainty is that whatever Jesse James was, everything changed when he and his gang rode into Northfield, Minnesota on September 7, 1876 - which is why our show is called The Defeat of Jesse James," Hatcher said.

The cast features Adam Qualls as Jesse James (Glensheen, Lord Gordon Gordon), Sasha Andreev (Runestone!), Jen Burleigh-Bentz (A Servants' Christmas, Hormel Girls, Working Boys Band, Sisters of Swing, Beyond the Rainbow), Suzie Juul (Glensheen), Jordan Leggett, James Ramlet (Baby Case, Lord Gordon Gordon), Randy Schmeling (1968: The Year that Rocked the World, Orphan Train, Axel & His Dog, Glensheen), Dane Stauffer (Glensheen), and Angela Timberman (Radio Man, Hormel Girls).

The creative team includes Joel Sass (Scenic Designer), Kirby Moore (Props Designer), Karin Olson (Lighting Designer), C. Andrew Mayer (Sound Designer), Austene Van (Choreographer), and Sonya Berlovitz (Costume Designer).

Ticket Information

Golden Circle: $70. Tiers 1-3: $43-63 (discounts available for seniors). Tier 4: $30. Additional discounts available for students and patrons under 30 (must call to purchase, ID required at pick up). For tickets call 651-292-4323 or visit Discount rates for groups of 10 or more. Call 651-292-4320 or email to book a group.

Pay What You Can Preview performances: April 27 and April 28, 7:30pm.

Afterthoughts held following Sunday Matinees

April 30, May 7, 14, 21, and 28. Free and open to all ticketed patrons get closer to the story on stage with a lively post-show talkback. For topics and special guests, visit

Accessibility at History Theatre

History Theatre strives to make all events accessible to all patrons. When purchasing tickets please alert the box office of any accommodation or assistance needed. Accessibility offerings include hearing enhancement receivers, seating for patrons with wheelchairs and their companions, accessible restrooms, Entrance on Cedar St., and elevator right to the theatre level for easy access. Contact the box office at 651-292-4323 for more information.

· American Sign Language and Audio Description: Sunday, May 21, 2:00 p.m.

· Open Captioning: Saturday, May 27, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 28, 2:00 p.m.

COVID-19 Protocols: Face masks are required for all Friday and Sunday performances. Face masks are optional but recommended at all Thursday and Saturday performances. For more information visit:

About the Artists

Jeffrey Hatcher PLAYWRIGHT: Hatcher's plays have been produced on Broadway, off-Broadway, and at hundreds of theaters throughout the United States and abroad. History Theater audiences have seen All the Way With LBJ, A Piece of the Rope, Tuesdays with Morrie (with Mitch Albom), and the Ivey Award-winning Tyrone and Ralph. He has written the films "Stage Beauty," "Casanova," "The Duchess," and "Mr. Holmes." For television, he has written for "Columbo" and "The Mentalist." He is a core member of The Playwrights Center.

Chan Poling COMPOSER/LYRICS: Poling is a Minnesota-based pop songwriter and performer, and composer of theatrical and film scores. His alternative rock band, The Suburbs, voted among the "100 Most Influential Minnesota Musical Entities of the Twentieth Century" by The Minneapolis Star Tribune, became a touchstone of the "Minneapolis Sound" in the 1980s. His other group, The New Standards, produces the highly popular The New Standards Holiday Show in theaters and for TV. Among many honors for his work, including an Emmy and a Cine Golden Eagle for his film scores, the Minnesota Music Awards recognized Chan with their lifetime "POP" (Perpetually Outstanding Performer) Award. His work for theater includes 1789, Cyrano, The Nightingale, and Children of Paradise (Yale Rep, La Jolla Playhouse) for Theatre de la Jeune Lune, & Heaven (Winner: Sage Cowles Award) directed by Joe Chvala at the Guthrie Theater.