Back to Classics

By Beacon Staff

The Alpine Theatre Project wants to keep its audience guessing. So how would a company known for its contemporary and occasionally risqué productions accomplish that?

With traditional theater, of course.

“We wanted to do something a little bit different,” Luke Walrath, executive director and actor with ATP, said. “So we’re switching things up and doing some more traditional musical theater – a little more classic.”

Founded in 2004 by actors David Ackroyd, Betsi Morrison and Walrath, ATP often brings in artists from New York and large theater companies from around the country to perform for the Flathead. Honorary board members include John Lithgow, Olympia Dukakis, Robert Goulet and Henry Winkler.

The company tends to gravitate toward modern productions, Walrath said.

“We’ve really made a name for ourselves doing some more adult stuff and not shying away from nudity, and this year we just thought, ‘We haven’t done anything classic in a while,’” Walrath said.

“We never want to keep the audience complacent,” he added. “I think when an audience comes to expect something, it can get really dangerous and it’s very easy to lose excitement over your programming.”

With that in mind, Walrath said the summer season for ATP begins June 10 and will feature four fun, charming and funny productions: “I Do, I Do,” “She Loves Me,” “An Evening of Frank Loesser,” and “No Way to Treat a Lady.”

There will be actors, directors and musicians from major cities around the country contributing to the Whitefish shows, Walrath said.

I Do, I Do

Betsi Morrison rehearses “Flaming Agnes” as her character Agnes Snow in the upcoming Alpine Theatre Project production of “I Do! I Do!”

Based on Jan de Hartog’s play, “The Fourposter,” this two-person play tells the story of a 50-year marriage that ranges from 1895 to 1945.

Walrath and Morrison, who are married in real life, will take on the roles of Michael and Agnes Snow. The story begins on their wedding night and follows them throughout their marriage’s trials and triumphs.

Every scene takes place in the couple’s bedroom, with their lives revolving around their four-post bed.

“We thought it would be kind of fun and ironic for a married couple to play a married couple,” Walrath said. “It’s a really sweet, charming, romantic, kind of sentimental piece.”

“I Do, I Do,” begins June 10 and runs through June 19.

She Loves Me

The July musical, “She Loves Me,” is based on the Hungarian play, “Parfumerie,” building on the classic idea of two people meeting, initially despising one another, but turning the loathing into loving in the end.

With a similar storyline to the movies “The Shop Around the Corner” with Jimmy Stewart, “In the Good Old Summertime” with Judy Garland and the more recent “You’ve Got Mail,” starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, “She Loves Me” follows two people who can’t stand each other in their daily interaction at work but fall in love as anonymous pen pals.

This production will feature most of the incoming New York actors, Walrath said.

“It’s a little, tiny gem,” he said. “It’s light fun, charming, good summer stuff.”

“She Loves Me” runs from July 12 to July 29.

An Evening with Frank Loesser

This one-night production will feature the work of one of Broadway’s finest composers and lyricists.

Frank Loesser is responsible for such successful productions as “Guys and Dolls,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” and “The Most Happy Fella.”

Some of his most notable songs include “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “What are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”

“We’re basically using our cast from this summer to create this one night concert of his hits,” Walrath said.

“An Evening with Frank Loesser” takes place Aug. 4.

No Way to Treat a Lady

A tongue-in-cheek musical comedy thriller, this production follows a failed actor whose dream is to be featured in the New York Times. Starved for publicity, the actor starts killing people to achieve his dream. The story then follows the detective hunting him down and the bond they form along the way.

Walrath describes it as a dark comedy with plenty of laughs. It’s also a chance to see ATP’s talent range, with one actor taking on eight different roles.

“We’re kind of expecting that one to be the unexpected hit of the summer,” Walrath said.

For more information on the Alpine Theatre Project, including ticketing and show times, visit www.alpinetheatreproject.org or call the box office at 406-862-7469 (SHOW).

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