Tumbleweed he is not.

Shane struts in purposefully on jangly cowboy boots at the Guthrie Theater, a magnetic man of mystery who enthralls young Bobby Starrett. Like one-name wonders such as Adele and Beyoncé, he comes with his own legend. And as brought to heartbreaking life by William DeMeritt, he will not only hold your rapt gaze and bated breath. This Shane, and the Starrett family that he gloms onto as his own, may also make you cry.

The question hovering over the premiere of playwright Karen Zacarías' compact, 90-minute stage adaptation of Jack Schaefer's novel was how a western might work, or not, in the theater. The stage, after all, can hardly compete with the big or small screen where cameras can take us into large vistas with galloping cowboys and pew-pew shoot-outs, often in the same shots. And readers of books have their whole imaginations to set their own works.

Instead of lamenting what they cannot do, director Blake Robison and his creative team lean into what they can. They have found a thrilling theatrical language to transport us to Wyoming cattle country in 1889. There, the ranchers, led by villainous bully Luke Fletcher (Bill McCallum), are trying to drive the homesteading Starretts — dad Joe (Ricardo Chavira of "Desperate Housewives" fame), son Bobby (Juan Arturo) and matriarch Marian (Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey) — off their land.

The Guthrie creative team makes "Shane" engrossing by marrying Trevor Bowen's cowboy costumes with other creative elements. Movement director Vanessa Severo has all the characters, and even the stagehands who're clad in cowboy get-ups, move with rhythmic style, sometimes motion. Her choreography also includes characters slapping their bodies a la fraternity style shows.

Sound designer and composer Matthew Nielson heightens the tension with twangy, mood-setting music and sound effects that find their climax in a deft, delightful shoot-out crafted by fight choreographers Sordelet Inc. And designer Pablo Santiago uses pinpoint lighting to bring us compelling close-ups on Lex Liang's spare set that looks like a canvas onto which his teammates get to paint.

Most of all, the Guthrie crew benefits from sure-handed performances.

DeMeritt brings a coolness to Shane, who is trying mightily to separate from his past. "I don't want to be the I am," he says. "I want to be a good man." But sometimes justice requires you to revisit a past that you want to leave there. DeMeritt expertly conveys the conflicts roiling Shane's soul.

Arturo's Bobby narrates with unbridled enthusiasm and sense of knowing. Bobby can see clearly into character and Arturo shows that inner vision.

In his conflict with Luke, Joe might be outgunned but he might have just found an ally in the mysterious stranger to whom the family has been kind. Chavira radiates empathetic goodness and integrity as the patriarch.

The Old West often does not include strong women, but this production has two beautifully realized heroines. Fernandez-Coffey shows Marian's wisdom, strength and dreaming. In a harsh place, she elevates herself and those around her by holding fast to dreams.

But the biggest one, and a surprise, is Winona Stephens, as embodied by Shayna Jackson. An Indigenous woman wronged by Luke, she has reason, and the skill, to take him on. Jackson executes the moment with beautiful aplomb.

But even the bad guys are compelling, with McCallum's Luke Fletcher so wicked that he practically begs for a comeuppance. Mikell Sapp finds some beautiful comic language for Fletcher's enforcer Chris. And Terry Hempleman shows that he's one of the finest character actors around as both trickster merchant Jake Ledyard and as no-nonsense barkeep Sam Grafton.

Zacarías took a story that we thought we knew and has added depth and dimension to our understanding of the Old West. True, it can occasionally be declarative, but it's all told from a child's eye. And as we get carried away into Shane's world, we're reminded of the cycles of history, of conquest and reconquest, of writing and rewriting, as we all share and tell our stories together.

This "Shane" shows there's a place for all of our stories in this fever dream that is America.

Who: Adapted by Karen Zacarías. Directed by Blake Robison.
When: 7:30 p.m. Tue., Thu. & Fri., 1 & 7:30 p.m. Wed. & Sat., 1 p.m. Sun. with select 7 p.m. Sun. performances as well. Ends Aug. 27.
Where: Guthrie Theater, 818 S. 2nd St., Mpls.
Tickets: $20-$80. 612-377-2224 or guthrietheater.org.
Protocol: Masks required for 1 p.m. Aug. 20 performance.