Mesquite political history featured in off-Broadway play

We understand the timing may seem bad for this play but we in the theater are dealing with it. We know neither of these events portray the real heart of Mesquite and its people.”

It’s one thing to live it. It’s another to see Mesquite’s heated political history portrayed in a New York City off-off-Broadway play.

For those who remember the mayoral campaign of 2011 when incumbent Mayor Susan Holecheck was running for re-election it was a horrible time in Mesquite’s political scene. The election, scheduled for April, was becoming heated as then-Councilwoman Donna Fairchild was considering a run against Holecheck.

In August 2011 ran a story about the whole election episode titling it “The Meanest Little Town in the West.” That became the basis for Playwright Leegrid Stevens to author his play titled simply “Mesquite, NV.” Liz Amberly plays the lead as Mayor Hadley, a retired paralegal running for re-election. Thomas Coté is director.

Stevens began writing his play in July 2015.

In a telephone interview with the Mesquite Local News, Stevens said, “This is not a documentary. It is loosely based on actual events. I wanted to portray a microcosm of the economy after the great recession and the overheated political rhetoric at the time.”

In early January 2011 Holecheck threatened to take action against Fairchild after the councilwoman allegedly filed a travel voucher worth $94 for a trip to a Las Vegas meeting that she ultimately didn’t attend. Fairchild admitted filing the voucher but never cashed the city-issued check for it.

Holecheck had placed an item on the city council’s January 25 meeting that would determine if Fairchild should be removed from her seat for violating the council’s code of conduct.

Early that same day Fairchild shot her husband Bill and then herself in what was reported by the Mesquite Police Department as a murder-suicide. The question of why Fairchild took such drastic action has never been answered.

Ultimately, Holecheck lost the mayoral race to Mark Wier by a landslide.

The web site, announced the off-off-Broadway show that runs from Oct. 5 to 28 at The Workshop Theater, 312 West 36th Street. “Based on actual events, “Mesquite, NV” by Leegrid Stevens is a dark comedy about power and politics that is one part Coen Brothers and one part Preston Sturgis.

It’s set in the retirement community of Mesquite, Nevada and dramatizes a contentious municipal election. The campaign turns nasty as complaints of sweetheart deals and fraudulent travel vouchers are leaked to the local press.”

Stevens told the MLN that “we don’t want to offend anyone in Mesquite with this play. With the recent tragic events in Las Vegas and its ties to Mesquite, we are very sorry. We understand the timing may seem bad for this play but we in the theater are dealing with it. We know neither of these events portray the real heart of Mesquite and its people.”

According to the web site, “Stevens initially discovered the 2011 Mesquite fracas through a CNN report and followed up by interviewing people who had been on the City Council at the time. He wrote the play over the last year and a half, “as a reaction to the heated political rhetoric of this country before Donald Trump reared his head.” The play offers unique perspective on the function of anger in American politics. Mesquite had been devastated by the national mortgage crisis, creating a sense of ire and helplessness that attached itself to tinderpoint issues.

Stevens says, “All the arguments were personal. The city had no left or right wing, exactly, just a constant search for blame. Everyone felt under attack.” He wanted the play to show the style of contemporary American politics — how you have to be outraged about either side. “People can’t abide a lack of outrage nowadays,” he declares, “no matter how small the issue. Bake sales, a $90 dollar voucher, a municipal election. The big issue is actually just the outrage.” This play puts a small town’s outrage under a microscope. The characters all use it and leverage it to their advantage until the outrage spirals out of control.”

[Publisher’s note: Mesquite Local News reporters Barbara Ellestad and Linda Faas will attend the play in person later this month and report on it after their return.]


  1. Mark Wier says:

    I remember a cool Winter morning, after the filing date had closed for the election. I had pulled into Smith’s parking lot to grab some bagels for the Reliance Connects customer service agents. As I walked towards the grocery store, I saw Donna Fairchild adjust her path to meet me. Instead of a confrontation, she graciously extended her hand to shake mine. She smiled and thanked me for entering the race. She wished me luck said she hoped we would have an opportunity to change the politics of Mesquite. Two days later, Bill and Donna Fairchild were gone. I will never forget the shock and pain of that day.

    That memory has tempered my political indignation forever. It taught me leaders need to measure their words and more importantly their actions. Unfortunately, we are living in an era of political revenge and demagoguery that threatens our Constitution and freedoms. I know as you, the good people must unite and end the dissonance consuming our nation.

    I have met a number of former political opponents over the years and they always ask “Are you glad to be out?” My answer is always the same. “Yes and no.” I miss the people of Mesquite. No matter their political inclination, they want to make Mesquite a better place. I do not miss the petty politics, we all understand is an unfortunate part of American Democracy.

    The time is now for the people to take back this country from the party politics corrupting our freedoms. The Constitution does not enshrine political parties. The Republican and Democratic Parties are first and foremost non-profit businesses fueled by differentiating the people. They exist and profit today to separate us from them.

    I have seen the ugly and the beauty of politics all in a small corner of Nevada. I will never forget the sadness that helped propelled me into the position of service and temper my judgement. Thank you for letting me serve you. Thank you for striving to make Mesquite beautiful.

  2. What?! The Donna Fairchild murder/suicide case had NOTHING to do with politics other than what little it may have contributed via sleep deprivation. As an expert on adverse reactions to antidepressant medications 1998 I worked closely with comedian Phil Hartman’s children in gathering evidence to take their wrongful death case to court. I believe there is enough evidence in the Donna Fairchild case to indicate she too suffered the same drug withdrawal state that Brynn Hartman suffered. Here is a clip on the Fairchild tragedy from the Las Vegas Review Journal:

    (As an older article, if it is not archived in the link above it is archived here:

    “Medication linked to councilwoman drew FDA warning in 2009

    Posted: Jan. 28, 2011 | 2:07 a.m.

    “So many problems had arisen with the smoking cessation drug Zyban that in 2009 the Food and Drug Administration sent out warnings about the medication to both consumers and health care professionals.

    “Some people who had taken the drug, the FDA reported on July 1, 2009, became hostile and agitated and “have reported experiencing unusual behavioral changes, have become depressed or have had their depression worsen, or have had thoughts about suicide or dying; some have attempted suicide” either while using the drug or “after they stopped.”

    “Two weeks after Mesquite City Councilwoman Donna Fairchild told people she stopped taking Zyban, police believe she fatally shot her husband and then killed herself.”

    In 2004 the FDA issued strong warnings about any abrupt change in dose of an antidepressant. What is rarely mentioned about these drugs is the deadly sleep disorder known as a drug withdrawal state which includes both murder and suicide as one acts out their worst nightmare. It is called a REM Sleep Behavior Disorder and the negative sleep issues can go on for 19 months or longer after coming off these drugs. I believe there is enough information in Donna Fairchild’s case to believe this withdrawal effect could have produced this tragedy. And we may have just witnessed another in Vegas this past weekend. Here is a list of thousands more: http://www.SSRIstories.NET

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