ON Stage

Riders of the Purple Sage: The Making of a Western Opera

A Documentary Film About Theatre Raising Money to Support Artists Sidelined by Covid
New York, NY and Scottsdale, AZ (March 10, 2021) – The Actors Fund, the national human services organization for everyone in performing arts and entertainment, announced today that Quantum Leap Productions will present “Riders of the Purple Sage: The Making of a Western Opera,” a documentary film that celebrates the artistry of live theatre, as an online benefit to support creative professionals out of work due to the pandemic. The Actors Fund and Quantum Leap Productions are partnering to raise funds for performing arts professionals across the country.

Watch the Video

In the award-winning documentary, Riders of the Purple Sage: The Making of a Western Opera, opera’s hallowed traditions and America’s cowboy culture converge to celebrate the collaborative power of art. The documentary details the creative process of all artists involved in live theatre onstage and backstage. Zane Grey is read by Peter Coyote, with performances by shining young opera stars, Karin Wolverton, Morgan Smith, Laura Wilde, Joshua Dennis, Joshua Jeremiah, Keith Phares, and Kristopher Irmiter.

“Mounting a new opera requires the collaboration of singers, musicians, designers and crew. The Actors Fund understands how important every individual is to the collective experience of live theatre,” said Quantum Leap Productions Director Kristin Atwell Ford. “While theatres are dark, we hope this film reminds us of the essential role artists play in elevating the human spirit.”

“Collaboration is the key to making great art, and also to helping our entertainment community,” said Actors Fund Chairman Brian Stokes Mitchell. “We are grateful to everyone at Quantum Leap Productions for this generous support, which helps to highlight our services for everyone who works in opera, as well as film, television, radio, music and dance.”

Half of all proceeds from ticket sales will benefit The Actors Fund. The film makes its virtual premiere Thursday, March 25th and will be available until April 11th. Tickets are $10 and are available now at Watch.RidersOperaFilm.com.

Special thanks to ADA Artist Management and Arizona Opera.


The Actors Fund is a national human services organization that fosters stability and resiliency, and provides a safety net for performing arts and entertainment professionals over their lifespan. Through offices in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, The Fund serves everyone in film, theater, television, music, opera, radio and dance with programs including social services and emergency financial assistance, health care and insurance counseling, housing, and secondary employment and training services. Visit actorsfund.org.


Riders of the Purple Sage: The Making of a Western Opera follows a composer as he adapts a 1912 dime novel masterpiece into a modern American opera. Zane Grey’s tale Riders of the Purple Sage flew off bookshelves around the world. A century later, composer Craig Bohmler dives into Zane Grey’s cabin during a rainstorm and discovers a story with the grand dimensions of opera. What begins as a challenge between a composer and his librettist evolves into a creative posse of artists, musicians, and singers sharing a singular vision. When legendary fine art painter Ed Mell translates Arizona’s landscape into a towering stage set, the opera accelerates toward its world premiere. The power of a classic Western is reclaimed opening night in a new work that marries hallowed musical traditions, cutting-edge stagecraft, and matinee heroes.

The documentary is directed by Emmy® Award-winning filmmaker Kristin Atwell Ford and produced by Quantum Leap Productions, a full-service video company based in Scottsdale, Arizona, in collaboration with Arizona Opera. Executive producers include Billie Jo & Judd Herberger and Scott J. Hooker. ridersoperafilm.com •  qlpdigital.com


Mounted by Arizona Opera, Riders of the Purple Sage marks an unprecedented collaboration between the work of author Zane Grey (1872-1939), American composer Craig Bohmler, librettist Steven Mark Kohn, and Arizona’s “visual poet laureate,” painter Ed Mell. Directed by Fenlon Lamb, conducted by Joseph Mechavich and Keitaro Harada, lighting design by Gregory Hirsch. ecspublishing.com

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