Theater-goers in western Montana have many opportunities to catch live, and often local, theater performed here in scenic surroundings. Audiences will experience performers, props, sets, lights and music, all presented with a passion that all lovers of theater will relish. With careful planning, these destinations all can be reached and enjoyed this summer.
Hamilton Players: Hamilton
“Theater patrons can expect a great experience this summer. We have two fantastic shows slated,” said Hamilton Players Executive Director Denise Rose. “The first, in June, is the musical classic ‘She Loves Me’. It’s a fun story about two feuding clerks who, unknown to them, are anonymous pen pals falling in love. …
“The second show, ‘Enchanted April’, is the magical tale of five women who rent an Italian villa for a holiday away from their bleak lives. They travel from inhibition to unrestrained joy in their restorative journey of self-discovery.
“Both productions are refreshing and entertaining and will remind you why you love theater.”
Rose continued: “Sandwiched between the two is a two-day theater camp production of ‘Disney's Aladdin, Jr.’, which will leave you cheering in amazement for what these kids can put together, start to finish, in one 40-hour week.”
“She Loves Me” (musical) runs June 16-18, 23-25, 30, and July 1-2; “Disney's Aladdin, Jr.” (K-12 Camp production) runs July 14-15 and “Enchanted April” (non-musical) runs Aug. 11-13, 18-20, 25-28.
Tickets are available three weeks prior to the show's opening and can be purchased at the Hamilton Players Box Office, 100 Ricketts Rd. Hamilton, Monday-Friday, 1-5 p.m., or online at hamiltonplayers.com. Call 406-375-9050 for more information.
Port Polson Players: Polson
Karen Lewing is artistic director and co-producer for the Port Polson Players. Her husband Neal Lewing is the managing director and co-producer. Both are recipients of the prestigious 2016 Montana Governor’s Award for the Arts. Together they have put together a terrific summer lineup for the 42nd season.
The Port Polson Players present the Richard Rodgers-Martin Charnin musical comedy, “Two by Two”, before the summer season starts in earnest. In this fresh retelling of the Biblical story of Noah and the Ark, which is both inspirational and hilarious, the show promises good fun from a talented Mission Valley cast. “Two by Two” plays May 19-28.
After “Two by Two”, the Players launch their summer teaser, “Guys on Ice”, the ice fishing musical. The show is back by popular demand and only plays three evenings, June 16-18. The Players original cast spends a day on the ice as fishing buddies boom off musical numbers like, “Ode to a Snowmobile Suit,” “Beer in the Bucket” and “The One That Got Away.”
“Murder at the Howard Johnson’s” is next and runs from July 5-16. This Clark and Bobrick farce brings back the perennial mid-life crisis comedy for a reunion with cast members from the Players initial 1988 production. The Lewings and Todd Mowbray have performed this iconic comedy together for decades. The trio plans five-year “reunion performances of the comedy until one of them croaks.”
“Pump Boys and Dinettes” runs July 20-Aug. 6. Set in contemporary Georgia, this story features selections like “Tips, Farmer Tan”, “Catfish” and “Mona Mona” in a country music-infused celebration.
Polson’s summer theater season wraps up Aug. 10-27 with Gregg Kreutz’s comedy mystery, “Death By Golf”. When an escaped convict, an anxious bride, a scheming new husband and a suspicious attorney all convene at Grandpa’s house, it doesn’t take long for Grandpa to realize he has to reschedule his golf game. This show pays tribute to the Players’ location on the “Old Nine” of the Polson Golf Course.
“Theater-goers will experience our 42nd season of live theater, in a beautiful 1938 log building, gracing the southern shores of Flathead Lake,” Karen Lewing said. “Inside the air-conditioned comfort of the theater, summer audiences will be treated to a comedy, a musical and a comedy farce performed by some of western Montana’s best-loved performers and guest artists.”
Reservations can be made by calling the theater box office, by phone at 406-883-9212 or visiting portpolsonplayers.com. Tickets are $18 for adults and $17 for students and seniors, with family discounts and group rates available. Updates can be found by following Port Polson Players on Facebook.
Opera House Theatre: Philipsburg
“Audiences will be entertained in the oldest operating theater in the state of Montana,” said Claudette Dringle, producer of Opera House Theatre in Philipsburg. “Built in 1891, the Opera House has excellent acoustics and is naturally cooled by air flow from the granite basement. Our productions offer vaudeville, farce and comedy with heart.”
The Opera House Theatre is a walk into history that is intimate and charming.
“Our cast is topnotch and we do our best to bring quality productions,” Dringle said, continuing, “Our music director is from Cornish College for the Arts in Seattle; we have one cast member from Washington State; one from New York and the rest of the ensemble is from the Missoula area.”
Dringle is excited for the summer lineup.
“ ‘Vaudeville Variety Show’ … is great family fun, as we feature the best of music, comedy, parody, hilarity and hi-jinx,” she said. “At its height, vaudeville played successfully to all economic classes. … We are proud to keep this popular and traditional style of entertainment alive at the Opera House Theatre.”
One of two other performances is “Getting Sara Married”.
“Sara Hastings is an unmarried lawyer in her mid-30s, much too busy to get involved in any romance. Her Aunt Martha has decided to take matters into her own hands and find Sara a husband. Unfortunately, Aunt Martha’s methods are unconventional, to say the least. She has chosen Brandon Cates and is totally undeterred by the fact that he is already engaged,” Dringle said.
The third production of the summer is “The Tin Woman”.
“Instead of relishing life after her heart transplant, Joy enters a downward spiral, unsure whether she truly deserves a second chance. Meanwhile, Alice and Hank mourn the loss of their son, Jack, whose heart was used to save Joy. At a friend’s urging, Joy tracks down Jack’s family to find closure. But are Alice, Hank and their daughter Sammy ready to accept Jack’s death? Based on a true story, you will find tears accompanying the laughter and humor that is forged by fire,” Dringle said.
She continued: “We run in full rep so many of our patrons spend the weekend and take in all three plays. We also have popcorn with real butter!”
Shows begin June 22 and run on weekends through Aug. 27. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Opera House Theatre at 406-859-0013 or may be purchased at the door the day of the performance. They do ask that groups call ahead for arrangements and group rates. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit operahousetheatre.com for more information.
Whitefish Theatre Company: Whitefish
Back by popular demand, “Always…Patsy Cline” will be the featured show this summer at the Whitefish Theatre Company.
“This is an amazing show. … We draw our talent from the Flathead Valley,” Executive Director Gayle MacLaren said.
MacLaren continued: “This Ted Swindley production is more than a tribute to the legendary country singer who died tragically at age 30 in a plane crash in 1963. The show is based on a true story about Cline’s friendship with a fan from Houston named Louise Seger, who befriended the star in 1961 and continued a correspondence with Cline until her death.
“If you like songs like ‘Crazy’, ‘She’s Got You’, ‘Back in Baby’s Arms’, ‘Walking After Midnight’, ‘I Fall To Pieces’ and ‘Your Cheating Heart’, you’re going to love this show – and in a cabaret setting as well.”
If Patsy Cline’s tunes aren’t your cup of tea, “Cabaret: The Musical” by Christopher Isherwood with lyrics by Fred Ebb will run June 1-4 and 8-11 at the theater.
“Always…Patsy Cline” runs July 27-30 and Aug. 3-6. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 406-862-5371, $25 all seats reserved. There is table seating as well as regular theater seating available.
Visit whitefishtheatreco.org for more information.
Stevensville Playhouse: Stevensville
The Stevensville Playhouse doesn’t have summer performances planned except for two children’s workshops, but does have a late spring production planned.
“Fiddler On The Roof” will run May 5-7, 12-14, and 19-21.
“Our season runs from October through May. Our summer is workshops only,” said Jaime Williams, vice president and director of communications.
“We are building an addition (starting May 22) to the back of the theater to include bathrooms, dressing rooms, storage, green room and shop. Volunteers are always needed,” Williams added.
The Bigfork Summer Playhouse: Bigfork
The Bigfork Summer Playhouse is celebrating its 58th season of live professional theater in 2017.
According to the website, the 2017 repertory theater season productions are: “The Marvelous Wonderettes” from May 19-June 1; “7 Brides for 7 Brothers” from June 10-Aug. 24; “Mamma Mia” from June 13-Aug. 26; “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” from June 27-Aug. 25 and “The Drowsy Chaperone” from July 11-Aug. 23. They also will have a late summer show from Aug. 31-Sept. 9, “Hits from the 50s, 60s and 70s” (Volume 5 – a repeat theme with new songs for this season).
Tickets are available online or by mail only. Visit bigforksummerplayhouse.com, mail the Bigfork Summer Playhouse, PO Box 456, Bigfork, MT 59911, or call 406-837-4886 for more information.