We are Building a Brand New Theatre!
For years we have wanted to build a brand new, beautiful facility for our patrons and performers. Many do not know that we have never owned the building we currently reside in or that the old building was never intended to be a theatre. Because of this, it has many limitations we have dealt with over the years. Each spring brings thousands of dollars of damage from the heavy winter snow, we don't have parking for our patrons, our cast has very little room backstage, and more. We have simply outgrown the space we are currently in.
For several years we have been finalizing plans for our new building. Land has been obtained in Mack's Inn, Idaho, about 30 minutes away from our current facility. The building will not only house a theatre, but will also feature a restaurant, gift shop, and ice-cream parlour. Plus it will feature better leg room and better air conditioning, storage, housing for our cast, and many other features we want to keep a surprise for our patrons. We couldn't be more excited!
We were all set to begin building in the Spring of 2020 when, of course, the pandemic hit. Since then, construction costs have skyrocketed and rendered much of our prior planning irrelevant. Because of this our timeline has been drawn out, but we are still moving forward with our plans as best we can. We are actively working on it week-by-week, but it is a slow process.
We do not have a groundbreaking date or an opening season announcement for you yet. We understand this process is taking a lot of patience (we feel your pain, trust us!) since many pandemic-related effects are unpredictable. However, we promise that we will not move locations without shouting from the rooftops! You will have a front row seat for the entire process.
Thank you for your support going forward into this next stage of our theatre! Until further notice, we look forward to making more memories with you in our West Yellowstone home!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why build a new theatre? If it ain't broke, why fix it?
Well - we work hard to hide it, but it many ways, it is "broke". Our current building is old and was built to be a turn-of-the-century bingo parlour and pharmacy - not a theatre. We have rented the building from the beginning and almost every spring we arrive to begin rehearsals with thousands of dollars of damage caused by the frigid Yellowstone winters. The building is simply not sturdy enough to withstand the challenges of the climate indefinitely.
There are many other challenges associated with our current building as well. First, we don't have space for our performers backstage or for props or set storage. Next, while we have invested a great deal of money into installing the best air conditioning unit that the building can handle, we recognize it is still not ideal for our patrons or our performers who work under hot lighting in many layers. We don't have parking for our patrons, our theatre is not as accessible as we'd like it to be, and we are inhibited in the scope of our productions because of the limitations of the stage space.
All these difficulties aside, we continually sell out through the summer. It is not uncommon on our busy days to have waiting lists of 20+ families trying to get into see us. Simply put, we want to be able to accommodate more patrons more comfortably, as well as expand on the current Playmill-style offerings we already provide.
2. Will you still sell concessions in the theatre, seat patrons, recognize birthdays, and do all the things that are included in the current Playmill-experience?
Yes! We don't plan on changing any of that.
3. Will the theatre still feel small and intimate?
While the theatre will be a little bigger to accommodate more guests, it will be the same layout as our current space. This is known as a "thrust stage" - with seating on three sides. Just like our current theatre, the front row will be on the same level as our stage - so they'll be a part of the action, as they are now. The ceiling will be about as tall as the back of our current ceiling in Section B, and the backdrop of the stage will be about the size of our current backdrop and proscenium (the area surrounding the opening of the stage) combined. We have put a great deal of thought and work into ensuring that the integrity of the Playmill experience will be preserved as best as it can be - but with added perks, like better leg room and air conditioning.
4. What will be some of the perks of the new building?
Where do we begin?!
For our patrons, a new building means better parking, leg room, and air conditioning. It means a delicious new restaurant to eat at before or after the show (or just for fun on any night you choose, even if you don't go to a show at all) that features live performances from Playmill Players while you eat. It means a fun ice-cream parlour for treats on a hot day and a gift shop featuring Playmill-themed goods and local artisan crafts. It means space for your family reunions or business retreats. It means additional concerts and events hosted throughout the year, like food truck nights or holiday fireworks shows. It means an extended season with performances through September or October. It means a sound-proof mother's room where families can sit comfortably with crying little ones while still watching the show. Plus, it means improvements in all aspects of our shows with the capability to do what we have never done before!
For us, it also means built-in housing for our performers, additional space backstage for storage and for our performers to get ready, and opportunities to expand our story-telling and theming in new ways. This is a fun challenge that we can't wait to get our hands on!
5. When is your opening season?
Oh, how we wish we knew! Everything was going smoothly until the pandemic hit. This not only pushed back our groundbreaking date indefinitely, but because of skyrocketing construction costs, it rendered much of our prior planning irrelevant.
We don't have much of a choice - we are forced to wait some of these pandemic-related changes out. If you somehow know when things will get back to normal, please tell us - but otherwise, you know about as much as we do.
In the mean time, we are actively working on the project as best we can with meetings occurring almost weekly. We are closer than we have ever been and we are moving forward confidently and excitedly. We promise the moment we have a groundbreaking date, we will shout it from the rooftops! We plan on covering the entire construction process on social media and even broadcasting some of it live. Stay tuned for more updates!
6. But... I love the current theatre and its quirks!
We are truly so glad to hear that! Trust us, we love it, too. This is where many of our family members have met and fallen in love with their spouses, where lots of our closest friendships have been forged, and where countless favorite memories have been made. We promise, we feel just as protective of The Playmill and its brand of entertainment as you, if not moreso! However, even if we did not move locations we would not be able to continue performing in our current building indefinitely due to its limitations. It is bittersweet, but we are confident that this new building will preserve the magic of The Playmill as you currently know it, but with many added conveniences and perks.
7. Are you sure you guys have thought this through?
Haha - we get this one a lot and it makes us laugh. The short answer is YES! We have put an endless amount of time, research, money, and honestly, prayer, into these plans. We have done nothing but think it through! Maybe one day we will be able to easily build a multi-million dollar building on a whim without thinking about it, but we are certainly not there yet :)