Category Archives: Theatre

Laughter flows abundantly ‘Over the River & Through the Woods’

Plays do not seem to have the same drawing power for MCT as musicals, but if the crowd present on opening night last Friday are any indication, the current production of Over the River & Through the Woods should change that perception.

The production was perfectly directed by Teresa Waldorf, University of Montana adjunct instructor and Educational Outreach Coordinator for Montana Rep., with assistance from Scenic Designer Spencer Perry, Properties Designer Lesley Washburn, Costume Designer Kara Chandler, Sound Designer Gregory Boris and Hair & Make-up Designer Maeve Ball.  The set was breathtakingly beautiful, and one of the most elaborate this reviewer has ever seen at MCT.  Megan Wittshire provided the final piece of the production puzzle with a truly amazing job of stage management.

With a core cast of just five actors plus one amazing supporting member, the ensemble cast turned in a fine performance that kept the audience in stitches.  At times we laughed so hard we were on the verge of crying.  Throughout the memorable show, this cast taught us the value of having family close at hand, and left the audience not only entertained but educated on this fact.

While the story revolves around grandson Nick, played admirably by Ian Tooley, it was a true ensemble effort, with Mike Verdon (Frank), Anne-Marie Williams (Aida), Paul Ronaldo (Nunzio) and Salina Chatlain (Emma) each turning award-winning performances as Nick’s grandparents.  Brit Garner was perfectly cast in the supporting role of Caitlin,  niece of Emma’s Canasta partner brought in to help the grandparents keep Nick close to home.

This is definitely a play that needs to be seen, if not just for the humor provided by the amazing playwright Joe DiPietro.  You will leave the theater entertained and energized, and we highly recommend you bring your friends and family to this outstanding show.

Tickets are still available at the MCT Box Office or online at  Remaining performances are scheduled for 2 pm. on March 12, 18 and 19, 6:30 p.m. on March 12 and 19, and 7:30 p.m. on March 15, 16, 17 and 18.

UM’s production of ‘Thinner Than Water’ blasts preconceived notions of family dynamics

The latest black box production of the University of Montana’s School of Theatre & Dance and College of Visual and Performing Arts is Melissa Ross’ stirring drama Thinner Than Water, currently being staged in the Masquer Theatre at UM’s PAR/TV building.

We attended the opening night sold out production, and judging from the audience’s reactions, the performance was a smashing success.

One of the beauties of black box theatre is that there is no pre-constructed set on stage, which alleviates the audience building up any pre-conceived notions about the performance.  It was the perfect showcase for this production about family dynamics, since the material presented was not in keeping with the popular notion that “blood is thicker than water.”

Skillfully directed by John Kenneth DeBoer, with technical assistance from Scenic Designer Mike Monsos, Costume Designer Lynn Martyn, Lighting Designer Timothy McHenry and Audio Designer Caitlin Larson, the production was perfected staged managed by Sadie Framness.

Annika Hanson was perfectly cast as elder sister Renee, with much support from Matt McDaniel as Gary and Danielle N. Sather as Cassie, her siblings, and Megan Merhar as Gwen, who portrayed their father’s girlfriend.  Further support was provided by the amazing ensemble cast of Anna Evans as Angela, Jake Bender as Henry, Joshua Pitt as Benjy and Aaron Williams as Mark.

This was a true ensemble production, as each cast member contributed equally to the story line.  Even so, Hanson and Merhar were so relatable to the audience at large through their larger than life portrayals, while Pitt’s Benjy provided some much needed laughs and surprises.

This is a production that will definitely leave the audience questioning some of their long-held beliefs about family, while providing a story line that just about everyone can relate to.  We highly recommend this production, which is part of one of the best seasons of shows we have ever seen at the University.

Thinner Than Water can be see today and next Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m., as well as 7:30 p.m. performances on March 1, 2 and 3.  Tickets are available at the UMArts Box Office or online at

BSDFF brings ‘Bright Lights’ to Missoula’s Wilma Theatre

Kicking off their 14th annual run, the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival opened on Friday night with a screening of the HBO documentary Bright Lights at the Wilma.  Fans began lining up before 6 p.m. for the free screening, and filled the house to capacity.

The documentary tells the story of the relationship between Debbie Reynolds and her children, Carrie Fisher and Todd Fisher, and is based on a small portion of the film archives of the family.  It was heartfelt and raw, and made you want to laugh, cry and cheer, all at the same time.

The film was introduced by current Executive Director Rachel Gregg, who was joined by the film’s producer, Todd Fisher.  Fisher returned after the screening and participated in a Q&A session that lasted for nearly an hour.

The Festival continues through February 26, with screenings at a multitude of venues, including the Wilma, the Elks Lodge, the Public House, the Roxy and the MCT Center for the Performing Arts.  Headquarters for the event will be at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography (216 N. Higgins), where you can purchase tickets and merchandise, participate in the VR Experience or attend classes on documentary filmmaking through the Doc Shops series, which begins on Monday, February 20.

For more information, check out the Festival’s website.  You can find the schedule here.

Monday Mashup 2017: Vol 7

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone in love.  Thought we ‘d kick off this week’s Monday Mashup with the latest music video from our friends at Redhead Express.  This original song was written by lead singer Kendra and features her husband Kelly and their son in a simply beautiful homage to love.  Check it out and share it.  If you love what they’re doing, please consider becoming one of their Patreon supporters.


Chance the Rapper, an unsigned independent artist who has never recorded a physical album, took home three Grammys last night from his seven nominations.  He won for best rap album for Coloring Book, best rap performance for “No Problem,” and best new artist.  What sets him further apart is the fact that this award winning album is only available through streaming.  Way to set the bar high, Chance.  Here’s to the future of the music industry!

Speaking of the Grammys – huge shout out to a couple of indie artists who performed at the show.  Adrienne Woods played her cello during John Legend’s performance, while indie triple threat actress Tiffany Phillips was a part of the Beyoncé performance.  Way to go!


We introduced you to the amazing sound of Streets of Laredo back in October 2016.  Balcony TV recently hosted them and filmed a music video for their hit single “99.9%,” which they released today.  Check it out.


Two more indie artists recently released music videos.  First up is the amazing Shannon Hurley, who released a stunning Max Headroom-esq video of her forthcoming single “Someday.”

Our second video is a premiere from a new artist we were recently introduced to.  We like what we see so far – please let us know your opinion.  His name is Dario and his tune is called “Good Morning World.”

Enjoy your week!



Montana Rep celebrates 50 years with a classic production

Besides MCT, Missoula is also home to another theater company with a long rich history.  The Montana Repertory Theatre is celebrating 50 years by delivering one of their finest productions and by doing it differently than they have in the past.

Neil Simon has generated some of the most comedic plays ever written, and Barefoot in the Park is definitely one of the best of his best.  It is perfect suited as the cornerstone for this Golden Anniversary celebration, and should contribute to making this year’s national tour a smashing success.

Normally the Montana Rep’s show features Actors’ Equity members in the lead roles, but director Greg Johnson turned that around when he cast UM students Whitney Miller and Hunter S. Hash in the roles of Corie and Paul Bratter, newlyweds moving into their first apartment in NYC in the 60’s.  Although they are not (yet) Actors’ Equity, they are no strangers to theater-goers in Missoula.  Miller just completed a run in the lead role of Elle in Legally Blonde the Musical, while Hash appeared in Dracula and A Christmas Carol.

As for the rest of the cast, all of them are veterans of previous Montana Rep productions.  Laurie Dawn portrayed Kate Keller in last year’s All My Sons, which also featured Colton Swibold as her son Chris.  Mark Kuntz starred as Jay Gatsby two years ago in The Great Gatsby, which also featured Swibold.

The set was a masterpiece of simplicity, perfectly created by Scenic Designer Joey Sarno and complemented by Props Artisan Jerry Goodwin.  The set was further brought to life by Lighting Designer Brian Hapcic and Audio Designer Timothy McHenry, while Costume Designer M L Hart provided the final touches that catapulted the stage into a true icon of the 60’s.

This production achieves its success through the overall direction of Montana Rep’s Artistic Director Johnson, while Stage Manager Hope Rose Kelly ensured that each performance was true to that direction.

Suffice it to say that this is one of the finest productions we have every witnessed, including off Broadway and national touring Broadway productions.  Every cast member left it all on the stage as they transported the audience back to the 1960’s in such a natural way that it felt like we had boarded a time machine and travelled there.  This is a true ensemble piece, and every actor had the chance to shine at some point in the show.  The pacing was brisk and moved the show along without ever dragging.

Do not miss this show.  Remaining performances in Missoula are scheduled for January 26 at 7:30 p.m., 27 (sold-out) and 28 (2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.), as well as February 2 and 4 at 7:30 p.m.  Performances are held in the Montana Theater on the campus of the University of Montana.  Tickets are available at the UMArts Box Office or online at


MCT rises to new heights with its production of Urinetown the Musical

Community theatre, when it’s done well, can be a true blessing, and the community of Missoula is very fortunate to have MCT in its midst for the past 29 years since it opened its doors in 1988.

We have been lucky to have witnessed the past four seasons of MCT productions, and we can truly say that the work done on the 2016-2017 season is some of the best we have ever witnessed.  Case in point – the current production of Urinetown: the Musical is easily the best show to come out of MCT during its tenure.  We were so glad to be there on opening night on Friday to witness its greatness.

What sets this show apart is the fact that it does not take itself seriously, but from start to finish takes a tongue-in-check approach that truly endears the show to participants and audiences alike.

Reid Reimers as Officer Lockstock is the consummate narrator and a damn fine actor.  His portrayal is spot-on, and his interactions with Haley Court as Little Sally are among the many bright spots of this production.  Speaking of Court, and having performed with her in her first show (Spamalot) four years ago, her growth as an actress has been nothing short of remarkable.

But they were not the only stars of this remarkable show, which was brilliantly directed by Joseph Martinez, with choreography by Megan Wittshire, music direction by Scott Koljonen, Scenic Design by Theresa K. Jenson and J. Scott Reilly, Lighting Design by Daniel Norton, Props Design by Lesley Washburn, Costume Design by Linda Muth and Sound Design by Gregory Boris, all perfectly carried out by stage director Kera Rivera.

Rachel Shull, who recently returned to Missoula from Utah, is pivotal as Penelope Pennywise, the administrator of Public Amenity #9.  Her voice took her solos to new heights and her comedic timing was perfect as she brought this very interesting character to life.  Equally as compelling was the return of Tim Shonkwiler as Bobby Strong, who provided the perfect nemesis for Shull’s character and ultimately led to her redemption, and Taylor Caprara as Hope Cladwell, the naïve daughter of villain Caldwell B. Cladwell, owner of UGC, played by Kelly Cutler.  Caprara was perfectly cast in this role, and demonstrated immense talent in her portrayal of her character’s eye-opening experience and eventual rise to power.  On the other hand, Cutler’s performance brought forth the perfect villain in Cladwell, and gave the audience a character truly worthy of its animosity.

Of the remaining cast members, all 17 turned in outstanding performances, but one truly shone in her role as one of Bobby Strong’s followers.  Carlyn Runnels, who portrayed Tiny Tom in the cop ensemble, was a singing and dancing machine, and stole the scene with her brilliance and award-worthy skills.

If you are a true musical theatre nerd, MCT is having a contest to see how many of the many musical references contained in this production can be identified by the audience.   Some of them are quite obvious to even the casual theater lover, while others will only be apparent to the true connoisseur of musical theater.   Regardless of which category you fit, it is fun to try and find them, sort of like the theatre’s version of Pokémon Go!

You should definitely make plans to attend this show, which continues today with performances at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., followed by 7:30 p.m. performances on January 25-28, 6:30 p.m. performance on January 29, and 2 p.m. matinees on January 28 and 29.  Call the box office at 728-7529 to inquire about the availability of tickets.   Friday’s opening night was sold out.


Monday Mashup 2017: Vol 3

Happy Monday.  So good of you to join us again, just a few hours before the winners of the LA Music Critic Awards are announced.

There’s been a lot happening to indie artists lately.  Among the latest is Jerad Finck continuing to move up on the Billboard Top 40 charts with the stripped down acoustic version of his mega-hit “Criminal.”  Congrats to Finck and to his promotional team at Ue3 Promotions.  Keep up the great work.


Back in October we told you about the new video by indie country star Kelly McGrath of her song “You and Me Today.”  Well, it finally premiered on CMT on January 10, and the fan response was intense.  In fact, it became the #1 video on their 12-pack Countdown of the week’s hottest videos.  The video airs every day at 10:38 am, 5:37 pm and 10:37 pm (all times ET).  If you like it, you can vote for it multiple times by clicking on this link.   Simply put a mark in the box by Kelly’s name, click on vote, refresh your page and do it again to your heart’s content.  Congrats Kelly!


Speaking of video releases, check out these new ones by indie artists:

We love this new video, especially the incredible violin work by Annette Homann.  Thanks to Rachel Sage for this great way to kick off 2017.

Although this was technically uploaded in December, we just discovered it and think you will be amazed at the amazing lyrics and the simple arrangement of this beautiful tribute to a fallen friend.  Thanks Elyse Haren for sharing from your heart and for the work you do with the West Coast Songwriters showcase in LA.


It’s a great week for theatre in Missoula, MT, with the opening of two new shows this week.  MCT will open their production of Urinetown:  The Musical on Thursday, January 19 (which we will review on January 20), while the Montana Rep will debut their 2017 touring show of the classic Neil Simon comedy Barefoot in the Park on January 20 (and we’ll review it on January 21).  Watch for these reviews next week on Indie Voice Blog.


The list of winners will be published at 6 a.m. MST TOMORROW.  Don’t miss it!

See you all next week.

MCT brings the beloved movie ‘A Christmas Story’ to life

Missoula Community Theatre (“MCT”) has been bringing quality theater to the Missoula community for quite a few years.  Every year we wait in anticipation for the announcement of the five shows that will comprise their season, and the 2016-2017 is one of their strongest to date.  The season kicked off with Disney’s Tarzan the Stage Musical, which we reviewed back in October.  Their second production, which ran December 1-18, was A Christmas Story, the Musical, and it played to mostly sold-out houses its entire run.

We had the opportunity to review the play on December 16, and we were not disappointed in the least.

Directed by MCT’s Executive Director, Michael McGill, and wonderfully choreographed by Christine Pepin, who had previously choreographed both Willy Wonka and Shrek the Musical, the show was musically directed by McGill and Eric Houchert, with scenic design by McGill, lighting design by Spencer Perry, Properties design by Lesley Washburn, costume design by Linda Muth and sound design by Gregory Boris.  Hannah Ettema also brilliantly stage managed the production.

There are very few among us who haven’t marveled at the wonder of this annual movie treat, or secretly wished they could help poor Ralphie get his Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun.  Those of us who are parents can probably understand why Mother and Dad were worried he’d “shoot his eye out.”  All of this drama is why A Christmas Story has become such a classic holiday favorite.  This musical captures the best of the movie and tells the story in such a way that it compels the audience to become an active part of the story.

The true stars of this production were the children, from the outstanding portrayals of Ralphie and his brother Randy by Scott Larson and Finn Goss to the absolute cuteness of their friends, especially Emily Fortune as Mary Beth, Olivia Farnes as Esther Jane and Alexa McLean and Harley Pohl Smith, who stole the show with their amazing dancing.  Quinn Wyland as Flick also had his moments, especially the hilarious “tongue stuck to the flagpole” portion.

On the adult side of the story, the spotlight shone brightest on Mother, played by Colleen Rosbarsky; Miss Shields, played by Dara Wilson and The Old Man, played by Alex Kowalchik.  Scoob Decker was also instrumental in the production with his stellar portrayal of grown-up Ralphie, aka radio personality Jean Shepherd, while Casey Chaloupek, Ellen Taylor, Erik Heuchert, Heidi Sedivy, Jessica Ballard, Kelly Wilson, Mandy Elgin and Scott Ranf contributed to the adult ensemble, ably performing their roles.  We also thoroughly loved the Miss Shields dream sequence and the lamp dance, featuring Mother and the other ladies dressed as the lamp.

Big thanks to MCT for bringing this Christmas classic to our community.  We can all hardly wait for the next production, Urinetown, the Musical, which debuts on January 19, 2017.

Monday Mashup Vol 4: What’s new in the indie world today?

Happy Monday – can you believe there are only two more Mondays after today left in this year?  Has it been a good one for you?  If not, what are you doing to change the future?  Indie artists are our hope for a brighter tomorrow, so get up, get busy, and let’s change the world for the better.

Kari Kimmel releases new album

Indie artist extraordinaire Kari Kimmel is one of the most well-known of indie artists, since her music has been heard in countless television shows, movies and commercials.  Hot on the success of her last release, Poppyfields, Kimmel is releasing an album of covers on December 15.  Check back for our review of the new CD.  In the meantime, get out and add it to your collection.  You can pre-order now on iTunes.

Foxtrax plays Sofar Sounds Los Angeles

Foxtrax, who we introduced to you in August, performed at last night’s Secret Holiday Show for Sofar Sounds Los Angeles, which was the 300th Sofar Sounds show.   They previously had performed a residency at Sofar Sounds in October.  Unfortunately we couldn’t be there, but we are sure it was a smashing success.  If you are an indie artist, you owe it to yourself and your career to become part of the Sofar Sounds experience.  Congratulations to Sofar Sounds on 300 shows.  Thanks for all you do for indie artists!!!

Alexis Keegan set to perform at The Mint

The music of Alexis Keegan was born in the soulful sounds of Motown and R&B, and Keegan wants to go back to those roots.  If you’re lucky enough to live in Los Angeles, you can get an early taste of the new sound by attending her performance on January 28, 2017 at the world famous Mint.  We think you will be pleased with the new sound.

Cindy Alexander to open for Eagles songwriter Jack Tempchin

Speaking of upcoming concerts, two of the best artists on Blue Élan Records will be performing together in a special show at Hollywood’s famed Hotel Café on January 22, 2017 on their Second Stage.  Don’t miss this opportunity to hear some of the best music in Los Angeles when Cindy Alexander opens for the famed Eagles songwriter Jack Tempchin.

Congrats to Janiva Magness for her Grammy nomination

And speaking of Blue Élan Records’ artists, we send out our heartiest congratulations to Janiva Magness for her recent Grammy nomination for Contemporary Blues for her album Love Wins Again, a first for both Magness and Blue Élan Records.

StageCrafts, L.L.C. to take over management of Stage/Sound

Theatre Unleashed Managing Director Gregory Crafts and his talented wife Jenn Scuderi Crafts have launched a new venture, StageCrafts, L.L.C., which will take over management of Koreatown’s Stage/Sound venue, effective January 1.  This is an amazing venue where we were able to catch Round Rock a few years ago.  We wish them the best as they continue to keep intimate theatre alive in the Los Angeles area.

Video Releases

Redhead Express, one of our favorite indie groups, has released their latest music video, just in time for Christmas.  This one is sure to put you in the Christmas spirit, as Kendra, LaRae, Alisa and Meghan cover “Away in a Manger,” bluegrass style.

Patrick Joseph has released a live video of his amazing song, “Piece of Your Love.”  This one gives us goosebumps.  Enjoy.

Come back tomorrow for another edition of Get it or Forget it.  Until then, keep it indie!


UM’s production of Legally Blonde the Musical is the perfect treat for Thanksgiving

Once a year the College of Visual and Performing Arts joins with the Schools of Music and Theatre & Dance to present a musical in the University of Montana’s Montana Theatre.  This year’s offering is the delightful Legally Blonde the Musical, based on the 2001 Reese Witherspoon movie Legally Blonde.

Sometime in the 19th Century the phrase “The show must go on,” originated, and nowhere was it more evident than in last night’s opening night performance.  Several of the cast members had been sick for the past two weeks, including the lead actress, Whitney Blair Miller, who despite her sickness, delivered a believable portrayal of Elle Woods.

Skillfully directed by Teresa Waldorf, with assistance from music director Roxanna Jackson, choreographer Pamyla Stiehl and stage manager Jason McDaniel, the performance was enhanced by the scenic design of Mike Fink, costume design of Bayne Tilton, lighting design of Zach Hamersley and audio design of Timothy McHenry.

From the pink halls of the Delta Nu Sorority to the hallowed halls of Harvard Law, the cast turned in a worthy performance that captured the magic of the original movie, and allowed several cast members to truly shine.  Besides the stellar performance of Miller, other cast members who delivered in their roles were Eric Wills as Emmett, Taylor Caprara as Brooke, Royce McIntosh as Callahan, Saige Perchy as Paulette and Natalie Johnston as Serena.  Johnston totally stole the show with every on-stage appearance.  Other notable performances were made by Erynn O’Brien as Enid, Curen Feliciani as Warner and Kady Nordstrom as Vivienne, while Carissa Lund turned in the most outstanding ensemble performance, consistently amazing the packed house with her incredible dance moves and abilities.  Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the two canine members of the cast, who stole the hearts of cast and audience alike with their portrayals of Bruiser and Rufus.

By all means, you should definitely head out for a great night of theater and catch this show.  Tickets are available at the UMArts box office and online at GrizTix.  Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on November 25, 26 & 30 and December 3, as well as at 2 p.m. on November 26 & 27 and December 4.  There is a talk back with the cast following the November 25 performance.