Rand Williams got his start as a gravedigger. Now he specializes in resurrection... of historic Spearfish properties. In 1995, he bought the old City Hall, which is now an office and apartment complex with the prettiest green space on Main Street. Last year he bought the old Spearfish High School.
Now he's bought the dormant Passion Play Amphitheatre. The Meiers and their buyer, Rand Williams, are keeping the sale price secret. Whatever he spent, Williams plans to spend another big chunk modernizing the site:
Williams said he plans to keep the property a performance, entertainment, and education venue, and plans upgrades that will include state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems, large video screens, and enhanced visitor amenities.
“There is a real economic opportunity here for our region,” Williams said in a prepared statement. “I want this facility to once again play an integral role in the community, as it did in the past. I understand how Spearfish people volunteered in the Passion Play for generations, and how they feel a sense of ownership in what happens here” [staff, "Former Passion Play Site Sells," Black Hills Pioneer, 2012.11.09].
Catch that, Madison? Economic opportunity in an arts facility? In its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s, the Passion Play drew over 100,000 a summer. 100,000 people buy a lot of sandwiches and gasoline.
Williams is looking for ways to bring those sandwich-eaters and gas-guzzlers back to town. He tells the Pioneer that he will hold public meetings (!) to take suggestions on uses for the grounds. He says he won't restage the Passion Play itself (from the tone of the coverage, I get the impression the Meier family has trademarked Jesus), but Williams is thinking about sequels (The Adventures of Saint Paul? A Passage to India, starring Saint Thomas?).
Spearfish has a lot going for it. The purchase of the Passion Play Amphitheatre by a local developer keen on bringing outdoor performances back to that naturally splendid venue is one more great opportunity for the town.