Bigfork Summer Playhouse Theatre, Montana – Great Stage for Musicals

The Bigfork Summer Playhouse Theatre was initially established by Dr. Firman ‘Bo’ Brown and his wife Margery Hunter Brown in 1960.

It served as a place for theatre students from the University of Montana to perform in the summer, and things started to take shape once Brown had hired technician Don Thomson around the mid-60s, who then managed to bring in Jude Irvin to join as the pianist.

As it turned out, Don and Jude got married in 1965, and 3 years later they had acquired the theatre. They have now been the theatre’s owners for more than half a century, although they have seen how each season can vary greatly.

Every season sees the playhouse bring ‘Broadway-to the Rockies’ by recruiting Broadway-caliber acting talent from across the country in order to produce some of the finest live professional theatres in the Northwest region.

The majority of locals always attend the offerings at the BSP, and once the season is underway they might see 4 plays on alternating nights.

The community surrounding the Electric Avenue theatre is what makes it special, and the Bigfork Summer Playhouse Theatre has plenty of tickets available for shows along with more information here.

The Bigfork Summer Playhouse Theatre is an excellent way to spend a summer evening with some talented thespians, albeit with a small-town feel. This is full-on Broadway production-style with a great cast of actors featuring in numerous performances of a variety of popular musicals and shows.

The cast and crew are always rated as excellent and consist largely of young theatre students who give entertaining and willing performances.

The Bigfork Playhouse Children’s Theatre, which is extensive, challenging, and rewarding for all involved, is a huge part of what the playhouse is about.

summer playhouse
Image: bigforksummerplayhouse

Bigfork Summer Playhouse Theatre History and Operation

Today Bigfork Summer Playhouse Theatre is owned and operated largely through the efforts of the various generations of the music and theatre-oriented Thomson family involved in the playhouse.

Producer Jon Thomson has been around the playhouse in one form or another since 1964, supporting on a number of levels and in a variety of roles until things found their feet proper.

He was a key figure in the setting up of the playhouse by providing sets, costumes, and other props as well as doing a spot of directing.

After receiving an M.A., Don went on to teach Theatre of Arts at Kearney State College in Nebraska, followed by six years teaching at C.M. Russell High School. Jon eventually became a Bigfork resident in 1978 and in 1997 both he and his wife Jude were awarded the Governor’s Award for the Performing Arts.

Jon’s wife is not far behind in terms of years of service. Associate Producer Jude Thomson came on the scene a couple of years after Don, originally from Kalispell and having graduated in music theory and composition.

Since her inclusion, she has played and directed at the Bigfork Summer Theatre on a major scale.

One of the couple’s two sons Brach Thomson is the manager of the playhouse, functioning in a variety of roles such as Associate Producer and Musical Director, especially in terms of the BSP Children’s Theatre.

Brach plays keyboards with the ensemble, as well as conducting and directing. After graduating in music Brach worked with both schools and colleges, and these days Brach is the Artistic Director and the Producer for the Children’s Theatre aspect of the playhouse operations.

Summer Playhouse Details

Bigfork Summer Playhouse Shows & Events

The Bigfork Summer Playhouse Theatre is readying itself for a new season of professional theatre after more than 60 of them so far.

The traditional opening date remains June 5, and the box office operates between noon and 5 pm, Monday through Saturday. The complete schedule for the season can be found on the official website from the end of May.

Individual tickets are made available online and at the box office as are the BSP 2022 FLEX Passes which allow you to buy early and save on ticket prices.

Purchase online and then call the box office to reserve your seats for the shows you want to see when tickets are available or when you decide which show you wish to attend.

Reservations are necessary 24 hours prior to show time, and the tickets are good from May 15 to Sept 5.

BSP Children’s Theatre

bsp children’s theatre
Image: bigforksummerplayhouse

The Children’s Theatre has been home to previous performances such as Mary Poppins Junior, The Addams Family, Frozen Junior, Aladdin Junior, and a bundle of Christmas-themed events.

There are also theatre dance camps, and in 2022 the schedule is looking something like this from March onwards, including a few annual favorites.

Disney’s Descendants (March 2022) Auditions for grades 5 – 12 – Feb 8 Performances – March 4 -5 – 11-12-13

Summer Musical Theatre Workshops (July-August, 2022)

Grades -12  in July & August (Sign-ups begin May 1 – 2022) Space is limited to 25 in each session.

Cowabunga (April 2022) This is another annual favorite and this year performances are scheduled for April 8-9.

Lion King Junior (September, October 2022) The junior favorite is currently scheduled for September 24 and 25 at 7.30 pm then again in October on 1, 2, and 3 at 2 pm.

Other Scheduled Programs

During the playhouse’s repertory season, various rotating shows are featured–usually four. This means that if you are staying in the area for four days and you love theatre you could stay four days and see four plays! 

So far scheduled for the 2022 repertory season is: 

  • Guys & Dolls
  • Mamma Mia
  • Freaky Friday
  • The Full Monty

Alongside those exciting events, late summer into early fall sees the coming of various musical extravaganzas, usually by way of hits from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. 

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