SPIN Theatre Co. presents “Outlaws”.


“Outlaws” performance, April 1. Photo courtesy of Durah Albadr (‘26).

On Saturday, April 1, the debut performance of “Outlaws” was presented in the CFA. “Outlaws” is a musical directed and written by Tyler Belanger (‘25) and Elliot Olson (‘26), produced by SPIN Theatre Company, a student-led theater club. They presented a new, original musical in one act, with libretto, lyrics, and music. “Outlaws” brought the often-overlooked history of the LGBTQIA+ community to the stage with a story of compulsory heterosexuality and love in the “wild west.” The musical is about two cowboys living during the 1850s, who fall in love and go through their challenges together until one of them gets killed. 

Both directors started writing the script at the beginning of the academic year of 2022 in October. Belanger mentioned that his inspiration for writing this musical was a late-night thought. 

“I was falling asleep one night and I thought of writing something about two cowboys,” Belanger said. “The next morning, I woke up with an almost fully formed plot. I then used the rest of the year to write and develop the script with Elliot. We spent months writing, rewriting, and editing the script. Finally, the script was complete by January 2023.” 

The other director, Olson, mentioned that something he learned from this process was to put himself in the shoes of other people and find the right words and emotions to reflect the characters.

“It’s important to understand the characters’ motivations and what drives them,” Olson said. “Doing so allows them to create a more complete story and gives them insight into how to craft believable characters.”

The director’s  friends and performers were very trusting of the process and believed in the story. Matthew Kozemski (‘24), one of the performers in “Outlaws”, expresses his feelings and gratitude to the director.

“I’ve known Tyler for a very long time and I completely trust his artistic vision,” Kozemski said. “I know that whatever it is he’s leading will come together because he is willing to go well above and beyond to get it there. Tyler is very good at writing music that gets stuck in your head; I’ve been humming it all week.” 

The musical had an emotional impact on some audience members.. Some left the room with tears in their eyes, and some were very happy and proud of the performers and directors. Andre Hagen Espino (‘26) found the performance to be both incredibly sad and excellent. 

“I was very impressed with Tyler and Elliot’s effort and how it turned out,” Espino said. “We should put on more shows like this in the future because it was an excellent way to raise awareness of the LGBTQ community.”

On the same note as Espino, Kozemski also felt the same way as he represented the history of the LGBTQ community on stage.

“I truly love being on stage and sharing that sweet message,” Kozemski said. “We have been erased or censored from history for as long as we’ve had it. This story puts us back into history.”

After “Outlaws”, Luther College Theatre Department is working hard to produce more spectacular shows in the future. On April 20, “Machinal” will make its debut on the Luther stage at the Center for the Arts, Jewel Theatre.