Winter Roundup: Theatre in the Midst

John Hosking and 23 other cast members and half a dozen show crew just celebrated a successful three-week run of “The Christmas Carol” at the Ellen Theatre in Bozeman. Cast and crew kept to a fairly strict “theatre bubble” during the rehearsal period and the run, and (giant sigh of relief by all involved) no one caught COVID. How has that become a hallmark of theatrical success? Well, we heard of countless theatres nationwide cancelling holiday shows mid-run due to cast or crew members testing positive for this obnoxious viral calamity. So getting through the whole twelve-show run with no serious illness deserves its own standing ovation.

All pandemic humor aside, the Ellen’s fresh take on this classic script captivated audiences for three weekends. Performers and audiences alike were delighted to be back in the theatre, immersed in a live show.

The Three Scrooges: John Hosking as old Ebenezer Scrooge; Sean Hecock as young Ebenezer; Evan Dendrinos as boy Ebenezer. Ellen Theatre; Bozeman, Montana; Dec. 2021.

Across the region, both brick and mortar theatres and traveling theatre companies are experimenting with how to approach productions during this transitional time. Whatever tack they take regarding location, audience size, and masking requirements, everyone is eager to be with each other experiencing live performance.

In that vein, Montana InSite Theatre, known for fostering artistic productions in the outdoors, will present their Second Annual “Sonnets in the Snow” January 22-23. John Hosking and several other local actors will wander the groomed cross-country ski loop between the trailheads for Blackmore Peak and History Rock. The audience members—also on skis or snowshoes enjoying the trails—are encouraged to flag down the sonneteers and request a poem recitation out under the trees.

John Hosking (left) greets skiers in Hyalite Canyon and shares a sonnet out under the big sky and big trees. At last year’s first annual Sonnets in the Snow, Feb. 2021.

Additionally, at the Blackmore Trailhead, participants may enjoy a live plein-air painting demo by Aaron Schuerr, who will also share his own original trio of story poems. It all makes for a perfect Montana day, enjoying everything we love about this region: artistic expression and the beauty of the natural world.

What began as a creative “art outdoors initiative” during the pandemic last winter, wound up gleaning such rave reviews that it’s becoming an annual offering. “Sonnets in the Snow” is a lovely way to enjoy and support the arts as we head into this new year. We hope to see you all on the trail in a couple weeks!

See highlights from the first “Sonnets in the Snow”, last February, on YouTube:

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