Black Hills Playhouse will deliver fun and laughs for 73rd season

By Carrie Moore

We’ve seen many signs of summer slowly appearing throughout the Black Hills, but the surest sign has to be the opening of the Black Hills Playhouse. 

The Black Hills Playhouse (BHP) will kick off its 73rd season in Custer State Park next Friday, June, 8, and boasts a season full of fun, laughs and maybe even some goosebumps! 

The season will kick off with “Tokens of Affection,” written by Topher Payne and in its regional debut at the playhouse. “Tokens of Affection” is a romantic comedy that “explores empty-nest syndrome, complicat

ions of long-term romance and the relationship of adult children with their parents as the parents proclaim their intention to divorce after 37 years of marriage.”

The BHP’s “Tokens” is directed by artistic director Dan Workman and features Jason Reuter, Justis Drakes, Josey Miller, David Wintersteen, Ryan Adolph and Carrie Wintersteen. “Tokens” runs from June 8-17 and is rated PG-13.

The second production at BHP — and its first musical of the season — is “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” which runs from June 22-July 8. “Putnam,” which is based on the book by Rachel Sheinkin and features music and lyrics by William Finn, tells the story of six youth as they all vie for the spelling bee championship of a lifetime. While telling their own
hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, the students spell their way through a bevy of words, all hoping to clench the win. “Putnam” was nominated for six Tony Award, winning best book and best featured actor.

BHP’s “Putnam” is directed by Joe Stollenwerk, with Vonnie Houchin as music director. Cast members are Cole Kennedy, Miranga Robinson, Josey Miller, Justis Drakes, Branden Osero, Austin Vetter, Emily Cherry, Jeff Kingsbury and Darryl d’Angelo Jones. 

“Putnam” is rated PG-13.

A second musical to be performed is everyone’s favorite, “Oklahoma!” The beloved Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s collaboration is in its 75th anniversary and remains as one of the most innovative musicals, setting the standards of musical theatre. 

Set in the West, just after the turn of the century, the high-spirited rivalry between the local farmers and cowboys provides the colorful background against which Curly, a handsome cowboy, and Laurey, a winsome farm girl, play out their love story. 

“Oklahoma!” will be directed by Bill Russell a features a talented cast, including Lukas Ptacek, Jacquelyn Kiefner, Josey Miller, Branden Osero, Emily Cherry, Jordan Mitchell, Darryl d’Angelo Jones, Jeff Kingsbury, Miranda Robinson, Ryan Adolph, Austin Vetter, Lera Zamaraeva, Justis Drakes, Madison Rimmer and Cole Kennedy.

“Oklahoma!” is rated PG and runs from July 13-29.

The final play of the season is non-stop in both danger and hilarity. In Ken Ludwig’s “The Game’s Afoot,” a Broadway star admired for his leading role in the play Sherlock Holmes, hosts a party with fellow cast members as guests. But when one of the guests is stabbed to death, the party turns dangerous with tricks, twists and even a few laughs. “The Game’s Afoot” was the winner of the 2012 Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allen Poe Award, Best Play. 

BHP’s comedy thriller is directed by Emily Cherry and stars Jeff Kingsbury, Jennie May Donnell, Matt Murry, Stephanie Murry, Ryan Adolph, Jacquelyn Kiefner, Madison Rimmer and Lera Zamaraeva. 

“The Game’s Afoot,” rated PG, runs through Aug. 3-19.

And if you just can’t wait for the season’s official kick off on June 8, there are two opportunities for you to support BHP’s initiatives. 

On Saturday, June 2, at 2 and 7:30 p.m., the BHP will host “Black Hills All Stars 2018,” a night described as “retro rock, retro fun and retrospective for the Black Hills Playhouse,” featuring Eric Johnson, Gordy Pratt, Dalyce Sellers and Don and Darla Drew Lerdal.
The performance will kick off with the Lerdals of DD and the Fayrohs, followed by Pratt and Sellers. Then Johnson will hit the stage with a Broadway retrospective covering tunes he’s performed throughout his theatrical career. Johnson will also be joined by some of his talented friends, including Emily Fellner Zeig, Justin Speck, Judy Vidal, Jeff Kingsbury and Meredith Meersman as musical director. Reservations for the all-star show is recommended. 

On Sunday, June 3, at 2 p.m., the annual Tatanka Teasers will be held. Tatanka Teasers is a way for audience members to get a sneak peek of the 2018 season, as well as find out a bit more about what goes into audition and putting on a BHP show. The show is free for pass holders and $5 for all others. Reservations are suggested.

For full descriptions on each of the plays and to read more about their ratings, visit blackhillsplayhouse.com/show-descriptions. And to purchase tickets and season passes, call (605) 255-4141 or visit blackhillsplayhouse.com.