BIGFORK — Theaters around the country have closed their doors due to coronavirus concerns but the Bigfork Summer Playhouse has decided to carry on with its four planned productions, but things look a little different this year.
Every year Bigfork Summer Playhouse attends a national casting call for talent around the country and with productions in mind, Bigfork Summer Playhouse casts their shows from this talent pool.
Brach Thomson, associate producer with Bigfork Summer Playhouse, said that this year was different. As they were beginning rehearsals, Gov. Steve Bullock's stay-at-home order went into effect.
"We know that most of the theaters across the country have shut down and aren't in a situation like we are in Montana where there's less cases," said Thomson. "But we're so glad, and I think people are as well. They're excited to be entertained with live entertainment."
Employing around 50 people for their summer productions of Newsies, Sister Act, Something Rotten and Hunchback of Notre Dame, he says they had to take safety precautions for the company.
But, the show must go on, so Thomson says they enacted a different approach.
All cast members exclusively lived together, like a family, for two weeks to make sure no one else was exposed.
"So they had a two-week quarantine just among themselves which we knew would make it so that they were comfortable with each other," he said.
Returning actress Valentina Silva said her mind was put at ease when she heard about the way all the actors were going to quarantine together. She said that the Bigfork community came together to support the actors.
"When we were doing the quarantine, the community all came together and they brought us groceries," she said. "They would pick up our orders so we didn't have to go into town to do that."
Thomson said that the Playhouse asks all cast members to wear masks when they are in public to set a good example and protect themselves and others. He said that because of the virus they can only fill audiences to 70 percent capacity, slashing their ticket sales and straining employee's paychecks.
So, they applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan.
"We base everything on our income around ticket sales," said Thomson. "To make that payroll we have a certain amount of tickets we have to sell. So, the PPP loan helped us be able to meet that."
Returning actor Cody Davis says the smaller audience doesn't effect their performances.
"I think everyone is just excited to be able to come out and come together and sit in a room and not think about COVID for a little while and just kinda get lost in a beautiful story," said Davis.
Thomson says seats are thoroughly cleaned and audience members are social distanced from each other. He says the theater strongly suggests audience members wear masks during the performances.
If you are interested to see if you qualify for a PPP loan or to apply please visit the US Small Business Administration's website. For more information about Bigfork Summer Playhouse productions please visit their website.