Theater Stages Heating Up for the Summer

By Beacon Staff

Summer is making its way into the Flathead, and while it brings tremendous outdoor opportunities, the valley also comes alive indoors, as stages heat up in theaters from Bigfork to Whitefish.

Here’s a preview of the playbills for the 2012 summer seasons at the Bigfork Summer Playhouse, the Alpine Theatre Project and the Whitefish Theatre Company.

Bigfork Summer Playhouse
Summer is a busy time at the playhouse, where actors from across the country perform for three months of repertory theater. Producer and director Brach Thomson said the playhouse is thrilled with the powerhouse voices and actors they have this season.
“We’re especially excited because we have about 65 percent returning company members,” he said.

“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” is the first show on the lineup. It chronicles what it means to be in love, and is summed up with the tagline: “Everything you have ever secretly thought about dating, romance, marriage, lovers, husbands, wives and in-laws, but were afraid to admit.” The show contains mature subject matter and runs from May 11 to mid-June, and picks up again in August.

“9 to 5: The Musical” is a take on the classic 1980s movie; the musical features music and lyrics from the legendary Dolly Parton. It follows three women who try to get rid of their boss and make women-friendly changes to their office. “9 to 5” opens on June 2.

“Damn Yankees” follows the story of Joe Boyd, who, after making a deal with the devil, tries to save his beloved Washington Senators baseball team from losing to the Yankees once again. It opens on June 5.

“The Music Man” is a family friendly tale about a con man who convinces a town they need a boys’ band and plans to flee with the cash but is held up by an unexpected love interest. It opens on June 19.

“High School Musical” will be familiar to the younger audience members. Originally a Disney movie, it follows a young “jock” and a “nerd” who find common ground in singing. The show focuses on issues like popularity, first love, balancing school and family life and being yourself. It begins July 3.
There are also two cabaret shows this summer, on July 22 and July 29.

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

Alpine Theatre Project
The folks at the Alpine Theatre Project are also known for the talent they put on stage in Whitefish, as well as the talent that goes into directing and producing.

“ATP’s mission is to bring Broadway home to the residents and visitors of our community,” ATP Artistic Director Betsi Morrison said. “And we’re doing that in spades this summer.”

“Master Class,” winner of three Tony awards, is set in one of opera diva Maria Callas’ master classes, where, late in her career, Callas challenges her students to make the same sacrifices and rise to the same heights that made her a legend and a villain in the opera scene. The show runs from June 15 through June 24.

“Little Shop of Horrors” is one of the longest-running Off-Broadway shows of all time. It is an “affectionate spoof” of a 1950s science fiction movie with catchy tunes and self-aware hilarity. It’s always a crowd pleaser, and runs from July 5 through July 22.

“Songs of Sondheim” celebrates the oeuvre of Broadway genius Stephen Sondheim. Join the ATP cast as they sing pieces from some of his most-famous works, including “West Side Story,” “Gypsy,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” “Sweeney Todd,” and more. The show is on July 30.

“Hedwig & the Angry Inch” promises to bring something new to Whitefish. The show – part rock concert, part stand-up routine – follows Hedwig Schmidt, an East German rock goddess who is also the victim of a botched sex-change surgery. Luke Walrath, ATP director, said the show is “hilariously trashy and surprisingly touching,” and should be for mature audiences only. It runs from Aug. 9 through Aug. 19.

For ATP tickets and show times visit www.alpinetheatreproject.org or call the box office at 406-862-7469.

Whitefish Theatre Company
Summer isn’t the Whitefish Theatre Company’s main season, but the experienced company does one show in June – “The Foreigner” – and one in July “Always … Patsy Cline.”

“It’s not really our season now, but we’re excited about both of them,” Executive Director Carolyn Pitman said.

Both shows are performed cabaret style, with the audience at tables and food and drinks available.

“The Foreigner” is a comedy about pathologically shy Charlie Baker and his friend Froggy, who decides to introduce Charlie as a foreigner who can’t speak English while the two go on vacation. The other guests at the lodge, however, begin divulging their life secrets and sinister plans to Charlie, and hilarity ensues. The show runs on May 24 and 26, and June 1-2, June 8-9.

“Always … Patsy Cline” is back by popular demand, and chronicles the friendship between the country singer and a fan and their correspondence from 1961 until Cline’s untimely death in a plane crash in 1963. It features some of Cline’s biggest hits and runs from July 12-15 and July 18-21.

For ticketing and show time information for the Whitefish Theatre Company, visit www.whitefishtheatreco.org or call the box office at 406-862-5371.