Executive Director Message

A Little Nostalgia + Gearing up for Year 74 + Making Doc Lee Proud


Linda Anderson

Thinking back

March of 2011 the Black Hills Playhouse was in a precarious position. Deep in debt, with thousands of dollars needed for repairs to the campus, this long-surviving South Dakota cultural treasure was scrambling to just put on a season and get permission to return to the historic site in Custer State Park. It was people who made the difference and it took solid investments from dedicated patrons, board members, volunteers, funders, politicians, BHP alums, and staff, plus a lot of old-fashioned sweat equity to move things forward. It takes a lot of faith to do theatre in the best of times. It took a monumental amount of faith to make it work that year.


Flash forward

Just eight years later, the BHP has just completed two new specialty programs inclusive of people with disabilities in Sioux Falls and is preparing to open another in May (the result of weeks of classes and rehearsals with people served at the LifeScape Center for the Arts and DakotAbilities). Our touring outreach company, Dakota Players (featuring the incredible Kevin Earlywine and Jacqueline DeGraff), is conducting arts residencies in communities large and small across SD. The new summer stock company is hired and production teams are working on artistic designs for the incredible shows of the 74th Season. We are feverishly preparing to meet our audiences for what is looking to be a record year, working on repair and maintenance projects in Custer State Park, and promoting and creating curriculum for summer performing arts camps.


Our board will meet mid-April and we are getting excited about additional special events this season, especially a special event called Nature. We are wrapping up ad sales for the Playbill, planning new fundraisers, and finalizing our sponsors. Please get in touch with Darla Drew Lerdal, darla@blackhillsplayhouse.com if you or your business can help in this way.


Our new mission: The Black Hills Playhouse builds stronger communities through artistically challenging, transformative, and inclusive performing arts experiences builds on the dream of Doc Lee (our founder) as we continue to employ more artists and make theatre more accessible to the people of South Dakota. The seeds that Doc Lee planted have grown into a beautiful association of passionate theatre artists, patrons and arts supporters who are called to bring the joy of theatre (human expression at its finest) to people of all abilities, to those who might not traditionally get access because of where they live or how much money they have, and to empower artists to change lives in communities large and small as they bring educational opportunities across our rural state. As Dr. Jim Johnson, one of our board members and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of SDSU and former Director and founder of Prairie Repertory Company says, "Doc Lee would have been proud." Jim knows what he is talking about. The course of his life was changed by theatre and by working side by side with Doc Lee. 



“The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” Malcolm Gladwell--The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference


Because of generous and kind individuals who care about the work we do, and because of those who continue to bring their sweat equity, we are thriving and truly, at a tipping point. Who will stand to take the BHP into the next era? Who will the next 75 years inspire? I encourage you to attend our productions, get involved, and bring your talents to the table. We are looking for volunteers in many areas and it is you, the BHP family of believers that makes things happen.

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Click the hands for volunteer opportunities

The Black Hills Playhouse, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to deliver exceptional theatre programs that engage diverse people and strengthen South Dakota communities.


They may be purchased at the BHP, at most entrances of the Park and online HERE.

Theatre Address:

24834 S. Playhouse Road,

Custer, SD 57730

Mailing Address:

PO Box 2513

Rapid City, SD  57709

Box Office: 605.255.4141

Box Office Hours:

Tuesday - Friday

10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

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