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Pulling Back the Curtain

How shows are chosen

The process of choosing the next season’s shows starts percolating in Dan Workman’s head long before we even set foot on the Black Hills Playhouse campus for the current season. He has a spreadsheet with show info that staff adds to periodically as we see shows or they come to our attention.


There are various sizes of shows. Shows for the BHP generally fall into the category of medium-sized casts for straight plays or musicals, meaning that they generally have 20 or less actors. Due to limited artist housing and the size of the stage, there can be challenges in producing large-cast shows at the BHP.


When Dan arrives to work the current season, he spends considerable time interacting with actors, designers, directors, professors, patrons, staff and board members to get their ideas. They discuss the pros and cons of doing potential shows and consider technical aspects of shows to gauge if the BHP has the resources to bring them to life. The Artistic Director also needs to consider casting requirements for various shows as it is his responsibility to cast all shows for the season. As he does this work, the vision for the season begins to gel.


The next step is to discuss potential scenarios with Linda Anderson, the Executive Director. They look at financial resources and determine the order of shows. Then it's time to propose the season to the BHP board (generally in the summer board meeting). Once approved, we are full speed ahead to get ready for the next year.


The BHP aims for a season that will be engaging for diverse audiences. Our opening show, the action/adventure Sherwood The Adventures of Robin Hood, complete with swashbuckling sword fights and maidens in distress, is geared towards families. Broadway lyricist and director, Bill Russell, originally from Spearfish, will join us as director for the second show, his Tony-nominated musical Side Show. No doubt he will bring out the best in the cast and crew for our audiences. Mamma Mia! is a joyous musical romp set in Greece to the music of the Swedish band, ABBA. This show is lauded for its great music and sense of fun. We look forward to plenty of sold-out performances. Our last show of the season, the acclaimed Steel Magnolias, has some people already stocking up on tissues. The play and film are about the bond a group of women share in a small-town Southern community, and how they cope with the death of one of their own. 


So there you have it, adventure and action, triumph over adversity, unadulterated joy set to music and generational connections. Thanks to the thoughtful work of Artistic Director Dan Workman, and all of the folks along the way who contribute to the process, we have it all covered next year!


First chance to buy tickets for the 2019 season is November 1, with the opening of the annual holiday sale. For more information on shows check out or call 605 255-4910.

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