Ishmael: One-man Whale of a Tale

Fast-paced play based on Moby Dick visits Helena Oct. 3 and Billings Oct. 8

On Stage

White Whale Productions presents “Ishmael” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, at The Myrna Loy in Helena and 1 p.m. Oct. 8 at the Lincoln Center in Billings. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune calls it a “one-man whale of a tale.”

This full-length live theatrical event, based on Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick, tells the tale of a country schoolteacher who signs on to a whaling trip with a captain he’s never met, only to find out he’s in over his head.

This fast-paced, music-infused adaptation features actor/singer Jack Weston, music by Jim Parker, and an innovative script that’s making a big splash. The agile, shape-shifting actor conjures a funny, thoughtful and harrowing tale about Ishmael’s drive to see the world and Captain Ahab’s insatiable quest for the great white whale, Moby Dick.

Originating at the 2015 Minnesota Fringe Festival, “Ishmael” was selected for the Big Sky Conservatory and developed into a full-length theatre piece that premiered at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky in March 2017. The production opened the 2018 season for Minneapolis’s acclaimed Jungle Theater and played sold-out shows for its entire run.

In discussing his approach to crafting this famous story into a 90-minute theater piece, playwright Leo Getter says, ”We tell this tale in such a way that it’s like closing your eyes and having the book come alive for the audience.”

Guthrie Theater actor Michelle O’Neill reshaped the piece for touring, integrating Weston from the original cast and Parker’s music, which provides a seamless soundscape that sets an evocative tone for the work.

“A lone narrative storyline that demonstrates a wide breadth of knowledge, experience, and skills seems to fit nicely in Montana, where all of us have to be Jacks and Jills of many trades,” says John Zirkle of the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center, where the show was created.

Tickets are $15-$20 for the Myrna production; call 406-443-0287 or visit The Alberta Bair Theater sponsors the student matinee in Billings; tickets are $6. Call 406-256-6052 or visit