Hamilton Players, Inc. is a 501c3 nonprofit community theater.
2021 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Gina Collins, President
Tia Morello, Vice President
Jo Ann Whitlock, Treasurer
Emily Athman, Director
Tammy Bedey, Director
denise rose, Executive Director
Marla Wallace, Box Office Manager, Volunteer Coordinator
100 Ricketts Rd., Hamilton, MT 59840
The Hamilton Players have their roots in the late 1970’s, when a group of Bitterroot Valley actors produced the comedy, Solid Gold Cadillac in 1979. With a production of Mame in 1981, the Hamilton Players emerged as a distinct organization. Through the mid-1980’s, they continued to produce plays, and co-produce musicals every summer with the Hamilton Soroptimists, as the “Bitterroot Summer Playhouse.”
By 1984, the Hamilton Players were producing a summer musical annually, another musical alternate winters, occasional plays, and were cooperating in the production of melodramas with the Hamilton Kiwanis Club. They had no formal structure; just a bank account, and a “Let’s put on a show!” mentality. Venues included the Bedford Building (now Hamilton City Hall) and the Hamilton High School auditorium (now Hamilton Middle School). The Players’ desire to produce more shows conflicted with increasing public use of both these facilities--in some cases leading to having to put up and tear down sets repeatedly – leading the group to ponder the acquisition of their own rehearsal/performance space.
A core group of players decided to incorporate, as a first step toward acquiring a facility. The Hamilton Players was incorporated as a Montana Non-Profit Corporation in 1994 and soon qualified as a 501-c-3 federal tax-exempt organization. Immediately, they were presented with an opportunity to purchase what was built in 1905 as the Canyon Creek School, but was universally known as the “Old Lab,” for its long association as the original Rocky Mountain Laboratory. The community poured out its support for the group, and individual donors provided enough funds to purchase the building and begin the remodeling. A mortgage, co-signed by several supporters of the project, secured the rest of the money needed. The Hamilton Players finalized the purchase of the Old Lab in 1995 and began renovations, gutting the interior and remodeling it into an auditorium to accommodate a stage and seating for 186 patrons. Community members accomplished the work almost entirely with volunteer labor.
The Hamilton Playhouse formally opened in June of 1996 with a production of Something’s Afoot. The facility included only the auditorium; audience and cast alike used rented outhouses, and an RV parked near the stage entrance was a dressing room. In 1997, the Playhouse added a lobby, bathrooms, dressing room, shop, and office space—again, entirely paid for with donated money and labor. An engineered septic system was installed (due to high groundwater at the site). Shortly after, the mortgage was burned!
The last twenty-five years have seen the Players move from ad hoc productions to presenting a formal Season each year, and hiring an Executive Director and office support staff. New seats were installed in 2010 (changing the seating capacity from 186 to 168), and new performance tech was installed in 2015. Now, each year, Hamilton Players now has a consistent four show season, 2-16 weeks of youth theater education, three readers’ theaters, and a variable three to five additional performance events per year. There is programming twelve months of the year that encompasses child, youth, adult, and senior participants.
HAMILTON PLAYERS' FUNDING
Hamilton Players, Inc. is primarily funded through ticket sales, tuition, and grants from individuals, businesses, foundations, and local/state government. Hamilton Players, Inc. gratefully acknowledges our 2020-2021 grants/grantors:
- The Rapp Family Foundation
- MT Cultural Trust*
- The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation
- State of Montana - Coronavirus Relief Grants
- Hamilton Downtown Association
- The Rob & Terry Ryan Community Reconstruction Challenge Grant
- SBA-Paycheck Protection Program
*We are funded in part by coal severance taxes paid based upon coal mined in Montana and deposited in Montana's cultural and aesthetic projects trust fund