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051812 summer theater
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Last weekend, the Bigfork Summer Playhouse officially kicked off its 2012 season with a new production of the classic relationship comedy, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” It is a symbolically fitting title for the company: By mid-June, the show will be one of three concurrent productions that will change on a nightly basis at the playhouse.

The constant rotation of shows at the Bigfork theater demands plenty of work, but it is an approach the company has honed to a science over its 53 seasons. With tourists coming and going on a weekly basis during the summer months, the spinning schedule means that short-stint visitors will have multiple entertainment choices every week of the summer.

“We really try to find a combination of shows that appeal to the widest possible audience,” said Don Thomson, the company’s producer for the past 49 years. “So there’s something for kids, there’s something for teens, and something for the adults.”

“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” counts as one of the latter, with some adult language and situations.

The company’s second show, “9 to 5 – the Musical,” is also a little more of an adult-oriented show – if only because most kids won’t directly connect with the workplace politics that form the backdrop of the comedy about a sexist boss and the women who decide to show him who’s really boss. That show opens June 2.

Three days later, the playhouse opens its third production of the season, “Damn Yankees,” a lighthearted musical about a man who makes a pact with the devil in order to get a shot as a major league baseball player. That show, noted Thomson, is fun for the whole family.

On June 19, the company opens its production of “The Music Man,” about a con-man who travels to a small Iowa town to make his fortune, but ends up falling in love and righting his ways.

Finally, on July 3, the playhouse debuts a production of “High School Musical,” a stage adaptation of the 2006 Disney made-for-TV film of the same name, which follows a seemingly mismatched pair of high school students who discover a shared love for singing.

It is a typically ambitious and busy season for the Bigfork theater, which will employ approximately four dozen actors – most of them recent college graduates, and most of them appearing in several productions at once.

“We’ve got about half of the company coming back from last year, which is nice because they understand the system and know what needs to get done to get the shows up and running,” said Thomson. “So it should be a great summer of theater.”

Reporter Joe Nickell can be reached at 523-5358, jnickell@missoulian.com or on NickellBag.com.

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