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MAT continues to expand offerings

Successful David Bowie tribute concert held last weekend


Last updated 3/9/2023 at 11:11am

Havre Daily News/Christy Bambrough

Brian Rhoades, from left, Logan Robertson and Steve Allison perform in the opening of The Concert That Never Was, a David Bowie tribute concert sponsored by Montana Actors' Theatre Saturday in The Little Theatre in Montana State University-Northern's Cowan Hall.

After three decades in operation that has included holding shows throughout Montana and even overseas, Havre's acting troupe continues to expand its offerings.

Last weekend, Montana Actors' Theatre held a special tribute concert to David Bowie, who died in 2016, called The Concert That Never Was, bringing a number of local bands to the stage at The Little Theatre at Montana State University-Northern to perform songs by the rock legend.

That followed 2021's The Last Best Waltz, a tribute concert paying homage to The Band.

MAT artistic director Grant Olson said he hopes the tribute concerts will continue in the future.

The troupe now puts on multiple plays every year including in many years holding a traveling dinner theater, holds youth events including children's summer camps and performances as well as a youth production, conducts a major fundraiser in its fall Death By Chocolate, and has started holding private Red Carpet Galas to honor its sponsors during productions.

The troupe has come a long way since Olson and his high school English and drama teacher Jay Pyette, MAT's executive director, founded the troupe in the 1990s, performing the two-actor piece "Greater Tuna."

The troupe soon grew to dozens of local actors, directors and playwrights, and kept expanding its offerings.

Havre Daily News/Christy Bambrough

Emilee Luke, from left, Trygve "Spike" Magelssen, Julea Robbins, Brian Rhoades, Joey Todd and Casey Donoven perform through dwindling special effect smoke during the David Bowie tribute concert The Concert That Never Was Saturday in The Little Theatre at MSU-Northern.

By 1999, the troupe produced Pyette's play "The Dead of Winter" with a cast of 24, and in 2000 produced Shakespeare's "Hamlet"

In 2002, MAT became the resident theater of Montana State University-Northern and began generally producing its plays in the university's Little Theatre.

But it also included putting on productions in Missoula and Great Falls as well as later starting its traveling dinner theater, as well as the children's theater camps that travel to different towns in the area through the summer.

It also has had overseas exposure. While Olson was working on his graduate degrees in London, he brought the troupe there in 2003 to perform "The Dead of Winter."

The troupe also started holding youth theater seminars during the school year and has been working with Havre High School to put on plays there since it lost its drama director.

The MAT-Havre High Production of "Sponge Bob: The Musical" is set to start this month.


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