Alpine Theatre Project
My first taste of musical theatre was in the fifth grade at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood where I watched the Broadway production of Peter Pan. I was mesmerized first by Peter Pan flying over the audience and next by the fact that “Peter” was actually played by a woman; the great Sandy Duncan. Later, the magic of The Phantom of the Opera and Grand Hotel and Wicked and Les Miserables and Cats seen on stages in Los Angeles and New York hooked me in for good. When we moved our family to little old Whitefish, Montana a few years ago, I assumed I’d have to wait until a vacation to get my theatre fix. Oh so little did I know.
I’d heard that Whitefish had an amazing “arts community” and that the “theatre was good,” but I didn’t really get it until I finally bought a ticket to see She Loves Me and stepped into my son’s middle school auditorium to see what Alpine Theatre Project had to offer.
From the set design to the costumes to the acting to the light and sound and incredible voices, I was awed. I felt like tapping my shoes three times to make sure I really was in Whitefish and not on Broadway. Of course, then I devoured the program, wanting to know more about the people behind this professional production. And I learned what most Whitefish folks already know. That Luke Walrath and Betsi Morrison (the married duo behind Alpine Theatre Project) worked on Broadway, actually met while working on a Broadway production of The Sound of Music, and that their entire goal behind forming ATP in 2006 was to surprise people with quality, like they’d just done to me.
Now I’m a fan. A big fan and excited to see what they’ll do next. Lucky for us, the Summer Season isn’t over. Their next production starts just next week and I’ve heard that this one involves some savvy and numerous costume changes by Luke, who plays a serial killer. They are promoting it like this…
A killer on the loose. A cop on the edge. A mother on a guilt trip. These are the ingredients for musical murder and mayhem in ATP’s final production of the summer season, No Way to Treat a Lady, running August 9 – 21 at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center. It chronicles the cat and mouse game played between a meek New York City detective and a failed actor who turns to murder in order to gain publicity in the New York Times.
“This show has it all,” says ATP Artistic Director, Betsi Morrison. “It’s got great music, a rip-roaring tale of suspense, and enough comedy to make Mel Brooks proud, not to mention ATP’s trademark Broadway talent.”
If you haven’t yet experienced the wonder of what Alpine Theatre Project has to offer, then head over to their website and purchase your tickets for No Way To Treat A Lady. Whitefish, Montana is blessed to have this quality of theatre in their midst and from what I witnessed in She Loves Me, they don’t have it in them to create anything that disappoints.
Oh, and another tidbit. From Luke’s program bio, who says he’s an “expectant father,” it sounds he and Betsi are expecting something else quite magical to happen soon.
You can follow ATP on Facebook and Twitter. And you should.
Whitefish Mom of The Year
A big thank you to all the friends and family members who took the time to nominate their loved ones for our Whitefish Mom of the Year Mother’s Day Giveaway. This was a difficult choice because the nominations were all so heartfelt. A panel of community members voted and a honoree has been selected.
This mother of three was nominated twice and here are a few words used to describe her—
After a difficult year involving her youngest daughter’s medical problems, “she has continued to smile her way through each hardship. She has never once felt sorry for herself or become bitter. Each day she goes above and beyond to meet each of her three girl’s unique needs. Cooking healthy meals, cleaning, coordinating playdates, reading with them, spending time alone with them… I could go on and on. It’s been truly amazing and inspiring to watch. I can honestly say I’ve never seen a stronger, more devoted wife and mother in all my life.” Christina Schmidt
“The family has been through a lot emotionally and physically. I can only imagine the sacrifices she is taking on herself while she gracefully puts all of her energy into her family. She is always cheerful and giving, even when I’m sure she is exhausted.” Sonja Burgard
The Whitefish Mom of The Year Mother’s Day Giveaway Winner is (drumroll…) Barb Cooke!
Congratulations. You have won a prize package valued at $500.00 including a one night stay in a suite at the beautiful Good Medicine Lodge with a gourmet breakfast made by Betsy Cox, author of the cookbook Good Montana Morning, a basket of goodies from Montana Coffee Traders, a $50 gift certificate for lunch or dinner at Rising Sun Bistro, and $200 worth of products from Arbonne!
We wish we could honor all the nominees with a fabulous prize, but words of praise and love are powerful rewards as well. Here are some words shared in the nominations—
Fifth grader Zachary Ade said of his mother, Michele Ade, “She is the best mom in the world because she is so caring and loving. I have had stitches near my eye, on my hand and had ear surgery and my mom has never left my side. She can always find a way to cheer me up by playing a game or just sitting with me. She works really hard and gets up in the morning about 5am and works to 6 or 7pm. I love my mom and she deserves a little break.”
Friend, Joanna Chung, nominated Melanie Piedemonte. “Melanie is a mother of three with number four on the way. She is kind and compassionate and has been on bed rest since February. Whenever anyone comes over, she goes out of her way to make them feel special. She is very attentive to her children… and is also a phenomenal cook and pie maker.”
Danielle Rice nominated her mom, Vickie Kelley with these powerful words, “I would like to nominate my mom because she truly is Whitefish Mom of the Year, if not the century. She was widowed with four kids and works a long job to support us and keep our family under one roof. She always finds time to help with homework, cooking, cleaning, dishes and everything that goes on in our house. She really does her best everyday. She cares about and loves her kids.”
Christine Bernat was nominated by her children Neil and Brooke (ages six and four) with this adorable poem,
My mom is pretty
she’s so neat,
we can always
have a treat.
And for our birthdays
we get dollars,
cause she’s so kind
and never hollers.
Bonnie Hannigan nominated her sister Linda Costain, saying, “She is an amazing mother, wife, sister, daughter and friend. On any given day, she can be found skiing with her boys, on a motorcycle, at the bike jumps, the skate park, on a mountain bike, or on their boat helping the boys water ski. She is always encouraging her children to think outside the box, reach for the stars and to give their friends the benefit of the doubt.” (Linda is mom to Parkin Costain who was featured in our article last Friday)
Heidi Howeth, mother of four, was nominated by Jennifer Oliver with the words, “Although she has had to deal with many challenges in her life, she handles them with ease and grace. She is kind and caring, not only to her family, but to others she meets along the way. Heidi is a beautiful person and radiates true joy and happiness.”
Thank you to those who took the time to honor the moms and send in nominations. May all the mother’s feel loved and appreciated today. Happy Mother’s Day!
Whitefish Middle School Band
Over the last ten years, budget cuts across the United States have slashed music programs from standard curriculum and electives. When Whitefish students, grade 6-12, alternated taking the stage and playing instruments in last week’s Winter Band Concert, it was due to the support of many, including parents and community members in the audience.
Mark McCrady, Whitefish Director of Bands, introduced each of the bands for their performances. The group of 6th graders, most of whom picked up their instruments for the first time just four short months ago, took the stage first.
Starting out with beginner selections including Hot Cross Buns and Good King Wenceslas, they graduated to a fantastic finale with Jingle Bells.
Mr. McCrady assured parents they would see marked improvement by the 6th graders next concert in May.
The seventh and then eighth grade bands came next. The seventh grade students played selections including the holiday tune, “Flutist We Have Heard on High” and then finished with a cool rendition of “The Incredibles” theme song.
Eighth graders played a dark tune with “Through Darkened Sleepy Hallow” then livened it up with a crowd pleasing “Three Minute Nutcracker.”
Finally, the varsity band took the stage. Members included Thomas Henson (drums) and Sarah Bonnington (saxaphone) who recently performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the Macy’s Great American Marching Band.
The varsity band performed “Cloudsplitter”, “Overture for Winds”, “West Highland Sojourn”, and “St. Louis Blues.” They ended the evening with an audience sing-a-long to holiday favorites including “Frosty The Snowman” and “Silver Bells.”
The music program at Whitefish High School continues to grow, even as enrollment decreases.”Five years ago, with enrollment levels at 667 students, 126 or 20% of them were in music. Today, with 436 students at WHS, 156 or 31% participate in music. This is a tribute to the quality of instruction offered.”
It is clear that Mark McCrady has a special talent to teach kids music. He states, “I believe I get to work with the best kids in the schools.”
To support or learn more about the Whitefish Bands, visit their fantastic website.
Kindergarteners Celebrate Arbor Day
For more years than she can remember, Kindergarten teacher Sue Moll has taken her students on an annual field trip to help plant trees on Arbor Day. They’ve planted all over town, including City Beach twice. This year, her students trekked from Muldown Elementary School to the Armory on a blustery, wet spring Arbor Day and met with Dan Cassidy, Fire and Service Forestry Program Manager of the DNRC.
He began the Arbor Day festivities with the five and six year olds by asking, “Why is it important to plant trees?” They replied—
They clean the air.
Branches make shade.
They can be harvested.
Impressed by their answers, he added, “And they also look nice too.” Unfolding a white flag, he explained that Whitefish has been a Tree City USA since 1995, an honor bestowed by the National Arbor Day Foundation and told them he’s hoping to have the flag flying in downtown Whitefish soon.
The Montana Tree City USA program has forty Tree City USA participating communities. There are four standards the community must meet in order to achieve the Tree City USA designation. Those include establishing a tree board or department, writing a Tree Care Ordinance, committing at least two dollars per capita annually to your community forestry program, and celebrating Arbor Day.
The Kindergartners took care of that last requirement by trudging through the mud and learning the best way to plant a tree. Before letting them assist in planting, Dan explained the importance of digging a good hole, making sure there isn’t too much water in it and scoring the roots.
He then asked, “When is the best time to plant a tree?” One of the adults spoke up, “Twenty years ago.” The kids smiled. They he asked, “When is the second best time to plant a tree?” Children’s voices shouted, “Today.”
Each child took a turn shoveling soil around the tree. How interesting it will be for them to return in twenty years as adults and see how that tree has grown.