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The first play written and played in Billings presented by Yellowstone Repertory Theatre



Yellowstone, Montana – This year’s show, “Straight On To Stardust,” was written and produced in Billings, and it is the first production of the Yellowstone Repertory Theatre’s fifth season.

This is the first original performance the group has ever done. In the play, spirits from the man’s past visit him as he drives his father’s body through a snowstorm from Billings to New Mexico.

“It’s exciting,” Artistic Director Craig Huisenga said. “Partly, because it’s the first show of our season, but I’m really proud of the growth and I hope we can keep going in that direction.”

Being able to perform an original piece demonstrates the group’s growth, according to Huisenga, who was involved in the formation of the YRT in 2017.

“We’ve read a couple of other original scripts, but this was the one that stuck and made us want to move to the next steps,” Huisenga said. “It’s really cool just for us to still be here and to be moving in the direction we had hoped to.”

According to Huisenga, it’s also a step toward their ultimate objective of making Billings a destination for professional actors willing to stay for a living wage.

“That’s been our mission, is to try and bring professional theater to Billings while recognizing the artist that deserves to be paid for their work,” Huisenga said.

Well-known Billings novelist Craig Lancaster, who has supported the efforts of YRT since its inception, wrote the play.

“I think live theater is absolutely vital to any community,” Lancaster said. “I and my wife were the first season ticket purchasers.”

Lancaster has attended numerous performances as an audience member because of her enthusiasm and support, but this year will be unique.

“It’s the first play that Yellowstone Rep has fully developed,” Lancaster said. “It will be super cool. I’m excited to see the final production.”

The three performances of the musical, which began on Friday and ended on a Sunday afternoon, marked the show’s debut at the NOVA in downtown Billings. There will be six additional performances in total on October 27, 28, and 29 as well as November 2, 3, and 4. The matinee is at 2 p.m. and the evening shows start at 7:30 p.m.

It is overwhelming, according to Lancaster, to see his vision realized by a group he loves and has long hoped for.

“When they do their work so well, it means they connected with my work,” Lancaster said. “That’s a really cool circle for an author. I just feel endless gratitude. A lot of plays get written, but some of them don’t make it. It’s special it gets to happen here.”


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