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Broadway performers move into the Flathead Valley, educate Whitefish youth

Posted at 11:29 AM, Dec 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-30 13:29:43-05

WHITEFISH — During a normal year, the Alpine Theatre Project would be holding their Annual Yulletide Affair in the Whitefish Performing Arts Center.

But due to COVID-19 putting a stop to performances, many actors have left the bigger cities where work normally is abundant and opted for a scenery a little different -- and for seven Broadway performers, Whitefish is now home.

“It was really it was a really fast decision, but it was a really the best decision that we ever made for our family was to go where we wanted to live our life as opposed to go where most artists go which is in a big city where they have to work," said Meredith Patterson, a Broadway actress.

Patterson has a large resume from Broadway to television that includes starring as the blonde bombshell herself, Marilyn Monroe, on stage to a role in Company Man on the big screen. But she has now moved to Whitefish to join the Alpine Theatre Project as a teacher.

“It's the community that they've created here the company is incredible," said Patterson.

Luke and Betsy Walrath -- the founders of the Alpine Theater Project -- say the performers who have joined the community joined for the opportunity to work again.

“When the pandemic hit and work shut down there really was very little reason for them to be in those big cities paying exorbitant rents or mortgages when there's nothing there," said Walrath.

Walrath says the unemployment rate among artists is high due to the lack of work being offered.

“There are 1.4 million artists out of work right now and the unemployment rate I think in the entertainment industry is sitting somewhere around 55-percent," said Walrath.

But ATP is offering the seven Broadway musicians and actors a chance to bring the lights, cameras and learning experience from professionals to the youth of Whitefish all while doing something they love.

“Being able to teach the kids how to do on-camera acting and how do I how do I take stage how do I how do I you know dancing and singing and acting and all these things that I've worked on for my you know my whole life," said Patterson.

Other Broadway performers who have joined ATP are Susan O'Dea, Eric Krop, Tracy Mcdowell, Summer Boggess, and Dustin Brayley -- Meredith’s husband.

You can find more information about Alpine Theatre Project here.