Written by ERIK RASMUSSEN
Photography by RANDALL MESDON
Creed Garnick was born and raised in Wyoming, deep in cowboy country. Think Marlboro ads – men in denim riding high in stampedes, lasso mid-throw, and horses kicking up clouds of dust that catch the color of a blazing sun. In the distance, the Rockies pale and etch themselves into the sky. In this classical mid-western environment, between Jackson Hole and Dubois, you’ll find a dude ranch called Triangle C where Mr. Garnick was raised with his eight siblings. “It was gritty. It was beautiful. It was hard work,” he says.
The Garnick’s property is an assemblage of cabins and corrals, sur-rounded by pines and hills. The land is sliced by a stream and swept by foehn winds descending the Teton Range. Elk and deer follow century-old logging trails and sneak out from the foothills to feed in the grasslands, hunted from one turn to the next by gray wolves, or by Creed and his brothers. In the main ranch-house horns and heads are mounted on the walls by the dozens, and taxidermied wolves and bobcats stalk in the rafters.
In addition to the ranch the Garnick’s have a musical theatre. “It’s the oldest standing building in Jackson,” Creed explains. “It’s been many things. A stage-stop. A post-office. A whorehouse. It was a bowling alley. For a while it was the only live theatre in town.” Creed performed in productions of Oklahoma and The Unsinkable Molly Brown. ”I was a little boy running around in 7 Wives For 7 Brothers yelling ‘Momma, Momma, the big bad wolf got Dorcas.’” From horseback to stage left in less than 30 minutes, adaptation was branded into the young rancher.
“When something needs to get done, it gets done.”
Showmanship is a family trait. “At holiday [gatherings] we always had to perform. Either you sung a song or acted out a scene.” He knew he loved acting from those early performances at his family’s theatre and with his sib-lings at Thanksgiving dinners, but he didn’t know how to make it happen.
“I didn’t even know what Juilliard was,” Creed admits. “I could have spent the rest of my life on the ranch. But my dad pressed me to go away. He told me the ranch would always be there.” Together they researched actors Creed respected: Robin Williams, Val Kilmer. “[I had] to take a chance,” he says about his audition for Julliard. “I brought two monologues with me. Pillow Man and A Winter’s Tale. They didn’t even look at my G.P.A or S.A.T’s. It was strictly based on my performance.”
He was accepted to Julliard and headed to New York, the city that has claimed so much small town talent. Creed is now working at The Golden Theatre, where he is the understudy to the role of Spike in a Broadway play. Like Creed, the character Spike is an actor in his mid-twenties. The comparisons stop there. “He just doesn’t know more than he knows,” Creed says empathetically. “He’s a dork with muscles. He couldn’t be further away from who I am, actually.”
And who is Creed? He is a man who rode bulls competitively, got dash-boarded by a beast called High Octane and spent five days in a coma then, when he woke up and healed his skull, headed back to the ranch to lead patrons on horseback hunting expeditions. “When something needs to get done,” says Creed, “it gets done.” That’s cowboy.
The play that Creed’s a part of is a modernized take on some of Chek-hov’s pieces, like The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, and The Cherry Orchard. “Chekhov doesn’t take out the comical pieces of life. If it’s played correctly it’s very comical, but believable, because it’s real,” says Creed. “Life is not always tragic. There are some funny parts.”