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Bigfork, Montana Area Chamber of Commerce

Not Your Typical School Play

Brach Thomson has seen it before. It’s the look he gets when people learn he directs children’s theatre.  It’s that ever-so-polite-but-wary look born of attendance at numerous school plays or recitals. That smile tells him that they haven’t experienced the Bigfork Playhouse Children’s Theatre.  As Brach simply says “This is not your typical school play.” And the reviews and sold-out houses prove his point. The Children’s Theatre players and crew bring not just talent, but enthusiasm, drive and a desire for excellence that results in productions that have become a mainstay of the Bigfork fall and winter theater scene.

A child of the theatre himself, Thomson serves as Artistic Director of the Children’s Theatre and Associate Producer of the Bigfork Summer Playhouse.  When asked why children’s theatre, Brach has a simple answer.  He likes working with kids and he loves teaching. “Kids need positive things they can be proud of”, and theatre can fill that need. And the young troupers respond in kind. Students from throughout the valley come to Bigfork to try out for these productions.

A primary goal is not to create stars, but to develop an understanding and appreciation of theatre. Out of the hundreds of students who have played on the Bigfork stage in the past ten years, only a few so far have chosen it as a profession. A few are working in Los Angeles and studying entertainment while three recent graduates are majoring in theatre at various colleges.

Some students may enjoy the stage while in grade school, but decide to take up varsity sports or other activities in high school. For those who like both, the Children’s Theatre schedules are perfect. Rehearsals start and end on time and it only takes two and a half weeks to mount a show.

For their production of “Annie”, auditions began right after the close of the Bigfork Summer Playhouse.  And audiences were treated to a full-blown musical production, not a cut-down children’s version of the musical. Was this an exceptionally ambitious project? Not according to Brach.  He admits to high expectations, but he also emphasizes that these students live up to those expectations.  And it’s not only on stage that the students rise to the challenge. The crew of “Annie” included a sixth grader working the lights and another sixth grader on sound.

These kids know that they are in charge.  There’s no adult hovering backstage if problems develop. The members of the cast and crew know that they are responsible and they can fix most situations as they arise.

For updates on dates and locations of performances of the Bigfork Playhouse Children’s Theatre, visit

To learn more about Bigfork and all it has to offer, visit  Media queries may be directed to Carol Beck-Edgar at 406-837-2061.


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