Hamilton Players Inc. has planned a year full of stellar productions, matching grants, fundraising, new partnerships and exciting events.
As for productions, having a live audience is always the hope but the first two productions will be streamed online. This year the playhouse is not selling season tickets due to the changing regulations to allow them to make timely decisions for each show.
The February musical is "Always, Patsy Cline," featuring Mara Luther and April Sommers, directed by Gina Collins. The April show is still under consideration. The June musical is "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," and the August show is a reprise of "Steel Magnolias."
“All the shows are small casts, from two to six people, to facilitate social distancing and backstage safety,” said Denise Rose, executive director. “Our fingers are crossed that the summer production will be able to have a live audience — even though it will most likely be a limited, socially distanced seating plan with masks required. We'll just have to see what the health department and CDC recommendations are at that time.”
Hamilton Players received two Rob and Terry Community Reconstruction Challenge Grants. The players are gathering donations towards their second $5,000 challenge grant, they met the first one on Dec. 30.
Rose said the support the playhouse received from the community has been remarkable.
“Even though we are all going through some stage of grief and struggles, financial and/or emotional, people are still stepping up to support the Playhouse, to make sure that we will be able to resume programming when it is safe to do so again,” she said. “It really has been amazing.”
Hamilton Players has multiple events in the works: book sales, a nonprofit fair, a Faerie Market, possible summer camps and the Scavenger Hunt.
The book sales are a donation of two-thirds of the profits to Hamilton Players from the liquidation of a local book seller’s inventory. The playhouse has hosted three major book sales in the last nine months and will continue to have book sale hours from 1-5 p.m. on Fridays, through March, or by private appointments, masks and social distancing protocols are required.
“Private shopping times do have to be scheduled in advance because we are buried in inventory and reorganization projects,” Rose said. “Also, if there are any nonprofits who would like some titles for their organization, they can contact me and see what we can do. We've got access to tons of books: nonfiction, fiction, cookbooks, kids books, inspirational, self-help, women's topics...just so many books that we, and the bookseller, would be happy to share.”
Hamilton Players is participating in a nonprofit fair at the First Interstate Center this June along with partners the Daly Mansion Preservation Trust, the Bitterroot Performing Arts Council, Sapphire Lutheran Homes, Bitter Root Resource Conservation and Development and Ravalli County Fairgrounds. The plan is to have fun and games for kids, hourly entertainment, raffle prizes, and information on nonprofit programs and services.
“The event will be free to the public and we are super excited to be a part of it,” Rose said. “If there are any nonprofits that would like to participate, they can get hold of me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is going to be a great event for everyone involved.”
In September, Hamilton Players is hosting a Faerie Market & Autumn Bizarre. This will be a craft fair for Halloween, Day of the Dead, Thanksgiving, and Autumn themed original and repurposed arts.
“This will coincide with our costume and vintage sale,” Rose said. “Crafters and artists are invited to apply for an outdoor booth for the one-day event. Interested parties can contact me for more information on how/when to apply. We will be rolling out applications soon.”
The Hamilton Players have hosted summer camps for youth, but this year that program is uncertain due to the COVID pandemic.
“It is very difficult to have more than eight people backstage and keep them socially distanced,” Rose said. “So we are considering our alternatives, including multiple, small, skills camps without performances. We just don't know what the situation will look like yet.”
The 2020 online Scavenger Hunt was such a big success the Hamilton Players are planning to host it again this fall and hope to make it an annual event.
“People had a lot of fun with it,” Rose said. “I'm looking forward to posting some of the entries as a video/slide show. We have a lot going on this year and are trying to keep a forward momentum to prepare for resuming regular programming.”
Hamilton Playhouse office hours will continue as 1-6 p.m. Friday only, with a change of ticket presales from three weeks before opening to two weeks to allow for making up-to-date pandemic-related production decisions. The Hamilton Players mission is “Putting the spotlight on education, inspiration, and community through the performing arts.”
The Hamilton Playhouse is located at 100 Ricketts Rd and can be reached by calling 406-375-9050 or online at hamiltonplayers.com.