Bigfork Summer Playhouse embarks on season 63

Popular theatre company offers lively mix of musicals June 4-Sept. 3

On Stage

The Bigfork Summer Playhouse opens its 63rd season this month with a fun and professional mix of musicals, ranging from the risqué “Full Monte” to perennial favorite “Guys and Dolls,” and the feel-good “Mamma Mia!” and “Freaky Friday.”

"Mamma Mia!" revisits the songs and styles of the 1970s with music by ABBA. The cast includes Delanie Kinney, Abbigail Aldridge, Savannah DeCrow.
“Mamma Mia!” revisits the songs and styles of the 1970s with music by ABBA. The cast includes Delanie Kinney, Abbigail Aldridge and Savannah DeCrow.Photo © Bigfork Summer Playouse

Brach Thomson, associate producer, company manager and music director, says fans will see “quite a few new faces on our stage this summer.” Accomplished actors from Louisiana, New York, Wisconsin, California and Montana fill the Playhouse roster with “some really great young talent.”

New to the Bigfork Playhouse stage is “Freaky Friday,” which opens June 22. This relatively new musical by Bridget Carpenter and Tom Kitt is based on the original Disney movie – the story of an overworked mom and her teenage daughter who magically swap bodies, leaving the pair with just one day to put things right and swap back.

“This is a big ensemble show with lots of largescale numbers,” says Thomson. “The music is upbeat and fun and both of our female leads are ‘newbies’ this summer – you’ll love them!”

He predicts this year’s best-seller will be the ABBA-infused musical “Mamma Mia!” which opens June 8. “You’ll hear all of your favorites, while moving through the lives of a young lady and her mother, trying to figure out who her father really is,” says Thomson. “Wedding plans are in order and the little Greek isle is hopping with fun characters and uplifting ABBA music.”

His personal favorite, based on its funky rock-jazz score, is “The Full Monty,” opening July 6. Based on the popular film, this rollicking musical tells the story of six out-of-work steelworkers who resent their wives becoming the family breadwinners.

“Not interested in smaller retail or mall cop jobs, they decide to become male strippers for one night – and rake in the money,” says Thomson. “We have a killer cast that’s looking forward to showing off ‘what they have’!”

While loads of fun, the production is “not for the faint of heart, or for children for that matter,” advises Thomson.

“Guys and Dolls,” which debuted as a stage musical in 1950, opened June 4. A frequent flyer in the world of musical theatre, it’s considered by many to be the perfect musical comedy, with its sharp-suited gamblers and their “dolls,” and the missionary zeal of prim Sister Sarah Brown.

Most summer shows begin at 8 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays with 2 p.m. matinees on select Sundays. Check the schedule for specific show times.

Thomson encourages Playhouse fans to make reservations early for the one-night-only production of “Broadway in Love,” 7:30 p.m. Aug. 28. The show features BSP alumni Stephen Stubbins and Libby Servais, whose Broadway credits include “Mary Poppins” and “Wicked.”

Together, they’ll bring “some of the most fun and romantic couples’ songs to the stage” in a show “not to be missed.” Thomson adds that Stubbins was a Playhouse favorite in the early 1990s, appearing in such roles as Cosmo in “Singin’ in the Rain” and George M. Cohan in “George M.”

The annual Benefit Revue, 7 p.m. Sunday, July 24, is another popular production that raises scholarship funds for BSP actors.

The season closes with a fresh version of “Hits of the 50s, 60s and 70s,” including songs from artists like The Spaniels, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, Chubby Checker, The Beatles, Billy Joel, and more, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 25-27 and Sept. 1-3.

While Thomson is hopeful the COVID virus won’t be an issue this season, he says audience members are welcome to mask up if they so choose.

The Bigfork Playhouse was one of the few theatre companies in Montana that kept its doors open during the summer of 2020, because the cast and crew are housed together. “Although the audience numbers were very small during COVID summer, we had great numbers last year and are planning on even better this summer,” Thomson adds.

For reservations, call 406-837-4886 or order tickets online.