Cutout of miners at the Granite Mountain Memorial in Butte, MT

Project Description

Manus Duggan's headstone in Butte, MT. Photo by JANICE DOWNEY 2016

Manus Duggan, who helped rescue 25 men but lost his own life, was buried at St. Patrick Cemetery in Butte, Montana. His epitaph reads: "No Greater Love hath any man than he shall lay down his life for his friend."

A commemoration of the 1917 Granite Mountain-Speculator Mine Fire and Butte's miners trapped underground, their rescuers and those who waited above

No Greater Love is a musical written to commemorate the mining disaster of June 8, 1917. The music was composed by Dr. Gary Funk. The lyrics and book were written by Dr. Gary Funk, Sylvia Funk and Edward Morgan. Dr. Funk is also the Music Director and Conductor, and Edward Morgan is the Stage Director. The project has been developed and supported by a dedicated Steering Committee, numerous individuals, civic leaders, businesses and organizations of Butte and Montana.

The Story was developed by Dr. Gary Funk, Sylvia Funk and Edward Morgan. Their research and influences include Doug Ammons' Speculator Mine Disaster 99 Years Later, Fire and Brimstone by Michael Punke, Myron Brinig's Wide Open Town, Copper Camp from the Writer's Project of Montana and the poetry of Butte writers Joseph H. Duffy, Ed Lahey and Seattle poet Brian William Taylor.

The Cast features professional performers and a large ensemble accompanied by a chamber orchestra.

The Characters: There are many colorful characters in the show. Manus Duggan is a miner who leads a heroic effort to save his co-workers. His wife Madge is a brave woman expecting a child. Jimmy and Zoe are young people who arrive in Butte just before the disaster. Gummy is a veteran miner who shows Jimmy the town. We also meet Madame McGinnis, who runs a brothel, Norman Braley, General Manager of the North Butte Mine, Assistant Foreman Sully, whose lamp accidentally starts the fire, a paperboy named Teddy, a priest named Father Barry, and many other miners and townsfolk.

The Production thrusts the audience into Butte in 1917. We come to know the town on the eve of the disaster, then we follow the action above and below ground as the calamity unfolds. There's music, dancing and humor and there are powerful, poignant scenes as all are confronted with life and death circumstances. The courage, ingenuity and toughness of Butte is exemplified by the miners, whose kinship is embodied in the willingness to sacrifice themselves for each other. As Manus Duggan's epitaph reads: "No greater love hath any man than that he shall lay down his life for his friend."

No Greater Love is a production that celebrates the spirit of Butte and Montana and honors the heroes and the survivors of the tragedy of June 8, 1917.