Bigfork Summer Playhouse Begins 52nd Season

By Beacon Staff

The Flathead got another sign of summer earlier this month as the Bigfork stage came alive with songs and choreography.

The Bigfork Summer Playhouse began its 52nd season on May 13 with “Shout!,” and will add to its repertoire “My Fair Lady,” “Guys and Dolls,” “The Wedding Singer” and “Happy Days” as the summer season rolls on.

Producer Brach Thomson said the BSP auditioned nearly 3,400 actors for this summer’s season, choosing 20 talented individuals, all between 20 and 30 years old. The actors come from all over the country, Thomson said, including Florida, Wisconsin, Virginia, North Carolina and Michigan.

With everyone accounted for, including directors, technicians, costumers and five-person pit ensemble, the BSP company settles at around 40 to 45 people.

“It’s a strong company,” Thomson said during a brief break in the playhouse’s hectic rehearsal schedule. “They’ve got big voices and they’re getting along really well.”

Harmony within the cast and crew is as important as the harmonies in the show tunes, and Thomson said it is a difficult task for 45 people to get along. This year’s company has already developed a friendly atmosphere, which Thomson sees as a good sign of the show season.

“That can be a challenge,” he said. “It’s rare you can get people to click so quickly.”

Aside from its typical full plate of shows, the Playhouse will have new features for the summer and fall season, including two late-night cabaret shows in July – complete with snacks and cocktails – to replace the annual scholarship benefit.

In the fall, BSP will take on “Three Cups of Tea,” a one-man show based on author Greg Mortenson’s life.

“It’s pretty diverse and we’re trying some new things,” Thomson said.

Shout!

An homage to 1960s music and culture, this show follows several young women as they make their way through the tumultuous decade with the help of an advice columnist.

Through the columnist, various true confessions, advertisements and quizzes, the audience will hear popular chart-toppers from that era, including “Downtown,” “Son of a Preacher Man,” “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself,” and more.

“It’s a neat trip with the music, the old pop songs from the 60s,” Thomson said.

“Shout!” will run until mid-June, and will reappear in the fall line-up in late August.

My Fair Lady

A well-known classic, “My Fair Lady” brings the story of Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle to the Flathead stage. Higgins, a snobbish phonetics professor, encounters Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl, and wagers with his friend that he could make her presentable to high society within three months.

Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn brought the tale to the silver screen in 1964 as Higgins and Doolittle, popularizing such songs as “The Rain In Spain,” “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” “On The Street Where You Live,” and “I Could Have Danced All Night.”

“My Fair Lady” opens June 4 and runs throughout the summer season.

Happy Days

Based on the popular TV series of the same name, “Happy Days” brings back such familiar characters as Ritchie Cunningham, Potsie, Ralph Malph and, of course, Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli.

The storyline follows the group as they try to save their favorite malt shop and hang out, Arthur’s, from demolition. The show’s songs include “Heartbeat,” “Legend in Leather” and “Happy Days.”

“Happy Days” opens June 7.

Guys and Dolls

BSP brings another classic show to the stage with “Guys and Dolls,” the story of a New York gambler who is challenged to take a female missionary to Havana in a bet that would finance a craps game.

The 1955 movie starred Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons and featured the songs “Luck Be a Lady” and “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat.”

“Guys and Dolls” opens June 21.

The Wedding Singer

The Playhouse skips forward several decades with “The Wedding Singer,” based on the movie of the same name starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.

The story, based in the 1980s, follows wedding singer Robbie Hart as he adjusts his life after being left at the altar. His situation takes a positive turn when he meets Julia, but matters are complicated by their budding romance and her engagement to another man.

Songs from the stage show include “It’s your Wedding Day,” “A Note From Grandma,” “Come Out of the Dumpster” and “Grow Old With You.”

“The Wedding Singer” opens July 5.

For show times and ticketing information, visit www.bigforksummerplayhouse.com or call the box office at 406-837-4886.

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