Bigfork Playhouse: Bringing Broadway to the Rockies

Bigfork Summer Playhouse season opens May 17 with a “totally tubular” ’80s musical revue

On Stage

The Bigfork Summer Playhouse – known affectionately as the “theatre by the bay” – offers another season of live professional theater, beginning May 17.

Each year, the playhouse – under the direction of producers Don Thomson, associate producer Jude Thomson, and associate producer, company manager and music director Brach Thomson – recruits a talented cast of Broadway-caliber actors and actresses from across the country.

BSP, founded in 1960, is a past recipient of the Montana Governor’s Arts Award and is known for its tradition of bringing the best of Broadway to the Rockies. Oscar-winning actor J.K. Simmons is among BSP’s alumni; he spent seven years with the playhouse, acting and directing.

This year’s season offers shows to suit every taste, beginning May 17 with The Totally Radical 80s Musical Revue. Four repertory productions follow: “Oklahoma!” opens June 8; “Seussical – the Musical” brings the whimsical world of Dr. Suess to life June 11; “Catch Me If You Can” takes the audience on a lively romp with a veteran con artist, June 25; and “The Wedding Singer” pokes fun at all things ’80s, beginning July 9. The season wraps up with another musical extravaganza, “Hits From the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s.”

The Shows Must Go On!

From the era that brought the world the Rubik’s Cube, Max Headroom and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comes the “Totally Radical 80s Musical Revue.” Big hair, spandex, synthesizers and some of the most popular songs ever written add up to a night of totally tubular music. BSP’s high-energy song and dance opener is on stage at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, May 17-June 1, and then joins the repertory line-up through June 29.

“Oklahoma!” – the first collaboration of famed partners Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II – is set in Western Indian Territory just after the turn of the 20th century. The spirited rivalry between the local farmers and cowboys provides the backdrop for the love story between Curly and Laurey, as the road to romance and the road to statehood converge. Songs include: “Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’,” “Surrey With A Fringe on Top,” “People Will Say We’re In Love,” “I Cain’t Say No,” and many more. The perennial favorite opens June 8 and continues through Aug. 22.

Seussical, which joins the playhouse line-up June 11, weaves a story of friendship, loyalty and love. Join the Cat and the Hat on a guided journey through the colorful world of Dr. Seuss. Meet Horton, the kind-hearted elephant in The Jungle of Nool, who discovers the miniature residents of Whoville, an entire world contained in a speck of dust.

Frank Abagnale Jr., one of the most famous con artists in history, runs circles around his pursuers in “Catch Me If You Can,” opening June 25. The rousing musical set in the 1960s tells Frank’s version of the truth as a hip, dance-heavy variety television show.

Playhouse: Hits From 50s 60s 70s
The Playhouse season closes Aug. 29-Sept. 7 with Hits From ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.Photo © Bigfork Summer Playhouse

The playhouse season gets an added dose of ’80s fun when “The Wedding Singer” opens July 9. With a score that pays loving homage to the pop songs of the 1980s, ”The Wedding Singer” takes the audience back to a time when hair was big, collars were up, and a wedding singer might just have been the coolest guy in the room.

Benefit Revue and Hits from the 50s, 60s, and 70s

Showtime is 8 p.m. nightly, Monday-Saturday, with 2 p.m. matinees July 14 and 21, and Aug. 11 and 18. The ever-popular Benefit Revue is 7 p.m. July 28; join the playhouse cast for a romp through “shows we’d like to do, shows we’ve done in the past and shows we promise we’ll never do.” All proceeds go toward the BSP scholarship fund.

As the summer season winds down BSP offers an evening of staged hits from artists like The Beatles, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Billy Joel, The Chiffons, The Spaniels, Elton John, The Big Bopper and many more in Hits from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. It’s the same theme as last year, but a new slate of songs, delivered at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, Aug. 29-Sept. 7.

For tickets and reservations, call 406-837-4886 or visit