Showcasing the Community’s Dance Skills

Whitefish Theatre Company hosts second annual dance production featuring locals

By Dillon Tabish

The popular one-night showcase “Dancing with our Community Stars” is back for a second year on the stage inside the O’Shaughnessy Center in Whitefish.

This year’s event, slated for Friday, Sept. 25, will feature six community members performing their best dance moves, similar to the hit ABC television show, “Dancing with the Stars.”

Whitefish Theatre Company is hosting the event as an unofficial kickoff to the 2015-16 season, and it’s sure to be a memorable launch.

“It’s just fun and turns out to be a riotous night,” Jesse DeVine, WTC artistic director, said.

This year’s lineup of dancers includes six residents who were chosen for their community support and spirit: O’Brien Byrd, owner of O’Brien’s Liquor and Wine; Josh Branstetter, principal at Whitefish Middle School; Rob Dewbre, morning show announcer for “Benny and Rob in the Morning” with B98.5; Becky Rygg, owner of women’s clothing store Harlow; Mary Collins Kelly, owner of Izaak Walton Inn; and Ginny Cronk, Glacier Symphony & Chorale board member.

Once again, WTC is bringing in the nationally renowned Utah Ballroom Dance Company, which organizes similar community dance productions across the U.S. and is considered the best in the business. The company follows the same routine as the television show, which pairs celebrities with professional dancers who train and compete. The dance company arrived this week to work with the dancers, who are thrown right into practices a specific song and dance that is given to each of them. They train one hour a day for five days before showcasing their skills on Friday night in 45-60 second performances.

“They totally start from scratch. It takes a lot of commitment to practice with these professional dancers,” DeVine said. “They have to be really brave participants.”

Audience members vote on the top performances, and spectators can buy more votes by purchasing additional tickets.

The event is a full-on production similar to the TV show. The Utah Ballroom Dance Company brings lights, costumes and a television screen that features videos of each dancer practicing and preparing for the big night. The night will include a full dance program from the professional ballroom dancers as an added bonus.

“It’s huge production-wise,” DeVine said.

Whitefish High School Principal Kerry Drown won last year’s inaugural event, earning the coveted mirror ball trophy. The event was a hit, too. It sold out, and this year’s performance is expected to sell out the 326 seats again.

“It’s a great way to involve the community and engage them and get them on the stage. That’s something Whitefish Theatre Company likes to do and pursue,” DeVine said. “Every once in awhile you take a risk and hope it works out for everyone involved. And it was. This is a win-win and it’s a hit.”

Tickets are $30 with reserved seating.  A ticket stub allows each patron one vote for their favorite dancer. Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office, 1 Central Ave., Whitefish, or by calling 862-5371. Box office hours are from 10 a.m.to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and one hour before a performance. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.whitefishtheatreco.org.

2nd Annual Dancing with our Community Stars

O’Shaughnessy Center, Whitefish

Friday, Sept. 25, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $30 with reserved seating.

Community Dancers


O’Brien Byrd

A Columbia Falls native, Byrd owns O’Brien’s Liquor and Wine and is the head coach of the Wildcats boys soccer team.



Josh-BrandstetterJosh Branstetter

Branstetter serves as the principal at Whitefish Middle School.




Rob-DewbreRob Dewbre

Dewbre is the familiar voice heard on the popular morning show “Benny and Rob in the Morning” on B98.5 KBBZ.



Becky Rygg finalBecky Rygg

Rygg is the owner of the women’s clothing store Harlow and a longtime actor with Whitefish Theatre Company.






Mary-kelly-(sweet)Mary Collins Kelly

Collins Kelly is the owner of the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex and a longtime actor with the Whitefish Theatre Company.



Ginny-Cronk-finalGinny Cronk

Cronk is a board member of the Glacier Symphony and Chorale and a volunteer “citizen scientist” in Glacier National Park.


Community Judges

Kerry Drown

Drown serves as the principal at Whitefish High School and was last year’s winner in the inaugural Dancing with our Community Stars event.

Matt Ford

A seventh and eighth grade teacher at Smith Valley School, Ford is also a frequent actor with Whitefish Theatre Company.

Sue Schenck

Schenck is leads marketing and community relations at Whitefish Credit Union and is also the current Whitefish Winter Carnival Queen.

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