Summer 2015: Sizzling on Stage

From Bigfork to Whitefish, the Flathead Valley will be alive with song, dance, and acting during the summer season

By Molly Priddy
Tasha Tormey, left, and Charlie Tingen rehearse a scene from "The Addams Family” at the Bigfork Summer Playhouse on May 28, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Summer is the season for outdoor fun in the Flathead, with a natural playground of water, hiking trails, mountains, and fresh air to keep everyone busy until the snow flies.

Pass through one door, though, and “break a leg” becomes a compliment, rather than a recreational fear.

As a perfect complement to this outdoor extravaganza, the valley is also a hotbed for indoor, onstage entertainment, giving audiences a chance to sit back, relax, and take in a couple hours of talented performers giving their all.

It’s theater season, and here’s a breakdown of some of the Flathead’s upcoming productions. For day-to-day updates on the schedules, visit www.FlatheadEvents.net.


The Bigfork Summer Playhouse has been putting up-and-coming actors on stage for 56 years this season, with alumni like Academy Award-winning actor JK Simmons having spent their formative years at the theater by the bay.

This season’s cast is especially talented, Brach Thomson of BSP said.

“It’s a great cast,” Thomson said. “We have some strong voices and some really strong dancers.”

Summer is the busy time for the repertory cast, who put on multiple shows on a rotating schedule through June, July, and August.

Beginning June 6, the players will present “Man of LaMancha,” the story of two men sent to prison during the Spanish Inquisition. The next show to start up will be “The Addams Family,” following up on the quirky family as daughter Wednesday tries to navigate the world of love while dealing with the peculiarities of her relatives.

Rounding out the month, the cast will start its productions of “Annie,” everyone’s favorite orphan, starting on June 23. On July 7, the cast takes to the stage in the massive movie sensation “Footloose,” telling the musical story of a town that forbids rock and roll and dancing, and the transplant teen from Chicago who wants to change it up.

On July 26, the cast will present its one-night-only Benefit Revue show, a classy evening of song, dance, and champagne, which raises money for the Bigfork Summer Playhouse Scholarship Fund.

And finally, at the end of the season, the players will present “The Hits from the 50s, 60s, and 70s,” featuring three decades of rock and roll from Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley to The Beach Boys and Elton John. The performances start Aug. 27.

For ticketing and scheduling information, visit www.bigforksummerplayhouse.com, or call 406-837-4885.


If mixing the outdoor scenery and the works from one of the greatest playwrights in history sounds appealing, be sure to check out the Montana Shakespeare in the Parks performance of “The Taming of the Shrew” at Flathead Valley Community College on Aug. 26.

All performances from MSIP are free; for more information, visit www.shakespeareintheparks.org.


The summer stage will be sizzling for Alpine Theatre Project, which takes on some of the hottest musicals for the 2015 season in repertory fashion. Luke Walrath, director of marketing and development at ATP, said this season’s shows will feature never-before-seen production values, including high-tech scene changes and pre-performance recordings incorporated into shows.

Ten of the 13 visiting actors have extensive Broadway and national touring experience, Walrath said, and ATP will stick with its repertory schedule to give visitors a chance to see a variety of shows.

“We’re sticking with the format, it definitely was the way to go. There’s a reason why Bigfork’s been doing it for years. In a resort community it just makes sense,” he said.

Starting July 9, the cast and crew will perform “Chicago,” a sometimes-dark, always-entertaining musical following the women of death row who are less worried about their time at the gallows than they are about their media close-ups.

Another hot show, “Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash,” starts up July 10, and will focus on the life and music of the Man in Black. And July 16, the cast adds “Big Fish” to its schedule, with the story of exaggerated, fantastical tales and how they fit into the lives of the characters.

“’Big Fish’ is definitely going to be our most family-friendly show,” Walrath said. “It’s just such a heartwarming tale, it really just speaks to the relationships between fathers and sons and how we invent the world around us by the stories we tell.”

For ticketing and scheduling information, visit www.atpwhitefish.org or call 406-862-7469.

Normally, the powerhouse players at the Whitefish Theatre Company take the summer off, but this year, due to the company’s dedication to its ongoing capital improvements plan to renovate the O’Shaughnessy Center, WTC will hit the stage in July and August for “Always, Patsy Cline,” a show that has become a staple for the group.

“That’s really going to be our one and only show for the summer,” Jen Asebrook with WTC said. “It has sold out the last two times we’ve done it. Patsy Cline’s sort of timeless.”

The cast this summer has already performed the show twice and all members are returning for this season’s iteration, Asebrook said, giving audiences a solid, well-rehearsed performance.

Shows will begin with a preview on July 28, and regularly scheduled performances on July 29-31, Aug. 1, and Aug. 5-8.

For more information, visit www.whitefishtheatreco.org.