Frequently Asked Questions
What does it take to do theatre outdoors?
2021 is certainly an adventure for everyone involved! First, we had a planning group of staff, experts, and board members who explored the possible options, meeting weekly starting in November. Then we had generous donors and funders who knew how essential it was for us to get back on stage and for our audiences to get access after a year's hiatus. We received generous use of equipment from community partners. It took a bunch of folks to get everything we needed constructed and moved out to the BHP and assembled. We are so grateful to everyone who has made this possible. (See the New Frontier team who made it possibe HERE).
At the same time, designers, directors, and technical artists took considerable time to plan for this outdoor season. Artistic Director, Dan Workman, chose shows with small casts that would play well in an outdoor setting. Artists came on board, many of whom experience considerable difficulty working in 2020 because of the pandemic. Everyone stepped up to make things happen. It takes a very different kind of planning to find outdoor-rated equipment and consider all of the weather variables for costumes, scenery, and props. The performers also have a very different environment to work in as they are exposed to the elements. Choreography and blocking needed to be carefully considered to ensure safety with potential variables in weather.
Even customer service is different this season as we had to think through parking and traffic flow (of both people and vehicles) to accommodate the site change (see 2021 Parking Map here). The artistic director and production manager have worked on procedures for calling a show due to weather and staff has planned the best way to shelter audiences in case of severe weather. Staff will be monitoring weather constantly and carefully and have practiced the best methods to protect equipment and people..
While infrequent, severe storms do happen in the Hills. In 2015, a lightning strike took out internet, telephones, and lighting systems in one fell swoop during the season warmer performance of A Couple of Blaguards starring Graham Thatcher and Jeff Kingsbury. As staff was on stage informing the audience of a pause as the situation was assessed, a woman from the audience shouted, "I always come to the Playhouse for an adventure!" We are happy that people join us for adventures at the Playhouse!
Why are you not playing indoors this season?
This season was chosen to be an outdoor season due to safety concerns with the pandemic and teams have been working since October to design shows that would play well outside. Folks have asked why we are not returning to the theater now that masks are optional and many people are vaccinated. There are three primary reasons for this:
1. The shows have been chosen and designed for an outdoor stage which has very different proportions than the indoor theatre. They are not interchangeable. This season provides an opportunity for our creative professionals and students to learn about a different kind of theatre production.
2. It is still safer to be outside than inside as the country moves towards higher vaccination rates.
3. We are in the process of upgrading the historic Warren M. Lee Theatre by adding new siding and insulation. Check out the On Our Side Campaign and become part of the team that helps strengthen and preserve our beloved theatre.
While there may be some weather delays when audiences may need to shelter, we are confident that this new environment will make for some beautiful theatre outdoors and under the stars!
Is the Playhouse Accessible?
Please check this link for information on accessibility at our campus.
What are your Exchange & Weather Policies for 2021?
Weather and the New Frontier Theatre
The weather will play an active role at the BHP’s New Frontier Theatre which is located outside. When the circumstances are right, Nature’s special effects can be downright spectacular. Wildlife may wander close to the performing area (please do not engage them!) Coming to the BHP is an adventure, and it’s always best to come prepared. Consider bringing a seat cushion, as the outdoor venue has folding metal seats. Dress appropriately for the weather. We will post weather advisories on the HOME PAGE of our website daily for the KEYSTONE AREA. Weather is often different in Keystone than it is in Rapid or other communities in the Hills at any given time.
We recommend you check the weather forecast for the KEYSTONE AREA before your performance to be prepared for what may come. Remember, if the weather forecast is questionable, you have the option to exchange your tickets. Those patrons with tickets scheduled for Tuesday would need to leave a message or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org on Monday as the Box Office is closed that day.
We do our best to try not to cancel a performance in advance of the scheduled curtain time. Cancelation decisions are made in consultation with weather professionals based on the specific forecast for BHP at the time of the performance. In case of inclement weather, we will make every effort to perform, including playing in light rain. Also, we may delay the performance to allow weather to pass. A decision to play or cancel will be made within approximately 45 minutes of the time the performance was delayed.
If a performance is canceled before the intermission, refunds or tickets to another 2021 performance will be offered. If a performance is canceled after the first intermission begins, refunds are not available, but tickets to another 2021 performance will be offered. In-person tickets are subject to availability. No immediate on-site refunds are available. Handling fees and concession purchases are nonrefundable. We also welcome donations of ticket values if a patron is so inclined to donate.
All ticket holders for a canceled performance are eligible for exchanges or refunds, based on when the performance is canceled. You do not have to be in attendance to qualify; however, if you decide not to attend a performance and the show goes on as scheduled you will not be eligible for refunds or exchanges. We also welcome donations of ticket value if you are so inclined to support the theater.
Booking rainout exchanges
To rebook tickets from a canceled performance, please call the Box Office when you have a new date selected and have your order number or tickets from the rained-out show available. Rebookings for rained-out performances are complimentary and may be for any performance during the 2021 season, subject to availability. Please note, rainout tickets cannot be rebooked online.
Requesting a Rainout Refund
Please contact the box office by phone to request a rain refund. Requested refunds are issued to the original purchaser by the original method of payment. Handling charges are nonrefundable. For questions and information or to make new arrangements for a rained out performance please contact the BHP Box Office at 605 255-4141 or at email@example.com.
Summer at the BHP is fickle. The elevation is nearly a mile high, so days are often hot, but the temperature drops dramatically the minute the sun goes down. Short bursts of rain are common in the afternoons and evenings, especially in June. Be prepared for quick weather changes.
How may I best prepare?
The Black Hills Playhouse is a unique and wonderful environment in the middle of Custer State Park. We want all of our visitors to have the best possible visit, so we’ve compiled this list of tips. As always, feel free to contact our friendly customer service staff if you have any further questions.
Being prepared will help you stay comfortable.
There is no dress code at the BHP, but most people dress casually. We are located in a forest at a high elevation. Days are warm, but evenings are usually quite cool. We recommend a jacket or sweater to layer over lighter clothing, perhaps keeping a raincoat, rain pancho, or umbrella handy. Shirts and jackets are sold in our snack bar.
The outdoor performance space has metal folding chairs. You may want to bring a seat cushion for optimum comfort. If you bring your own chair, it may be accommodated on the ground level seating as long as it doesn't interfere with space or sight lines for other customers.
Comfortable, sturdy shoes are a must to navigate this uneven terrain. Short bursts of rain sometimes happen in the afternoons and evenings, so it’s not a bad idea to have a pair of boots and a raincoat or umbrella stashed in your vehicle. The 2021 Season is in an outdoor performing space. We also recommend bug spray for those sensitive to insect bites.
Parking is located in grassy areas with uneven ground. We will have parking attendants to help you find your way to a safe parking spot. We have room to accommodate campers and busses. Handicapped parking and drop off areas closer to the performing space is available. Just make sure to let the parking attendants know if you have any special needs. We’ll do our best to help you find the spot that’s right for you.
Snack Bar & Gift Shop
We have a snack bar and gift shop that features popcorn, candy, ice cream, and bottled sodas and water. This year we are not doing any food preparation so there are no hot dogs, nachos, or home-made cookies. We are also not offering picnics this season. We also sell BHP merchandise, sun hats, seat cushions, and rain ponchos.
The BHP is located in the middle of Custer State Park - there are no fences to keep animals in or out. Common wildlife sightings range from mice and chipmunks to bats and birds to buffalo, deer, elk, mountain lions, and bighorn sheep. Many animals look docile, but they all have one thing in common…they are wild and can be very dangerous. We encourage you to take pictures, but please do so from a safe distance. Every once in a while, a bird or bat gets in the theatre. Don’t worry, the show will go on!
Is there a fee to enter the Park? Yes!
All visitors to Custer State Park are required to have an entrance license. Park Rangers frequently come to the BHP to check for stickers on vehicles and issue tickets to anyone without one. You may purchase on site before your performance in the Snack Bar, at one of the main entrances to the Park or online here. *There is no day pass option in Custer State Park, only a temporary 7-day or annual passes are offered.*
More questions about your visit to BHP? Call our friendly Box Office staff at 605.255.4141, or by emailing us @ firstname.lastname@example.org.