Bottineau community theater a fixture for half a century

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The Davis Playhouse in Bottineau was named after a man who has been a fixture in community theater in Bottineau for half a century.

Tim Davis, who is now retired from his day job, said he has loved being so involved in theater, musicals and children’s productions.

One year he was involved in seven productions, including a winter musical, summer plays and plays at the high school in Bottineau and Dakota College at Bottineau, quite a schedule to keep up while he was also working full time.

Now that he has retired from his day job, he is heavily involved with the Bottineau Historical Society, which will present a Clueseum, based on the game Clue, on June 21 as a fundraiser in conjunction with the community theater.

Community theater in Bottineau got its start about three years before Davis first arrived in Bottineau in 1968. The two principal originators were Evelyn Westgard and Eunice Ellingson, who had coffee one day and decided the town needed a community theater group. They organized the theater group through the college. Davis got involved in 1969. There was a children’s play for a few years up until 1973. The first winter musical was “Fiddler on the Roof,” which Davis said he has directed multiple times.

“I’ve done it three times and I hope to do it one more time before I’m done,” he said.

Other musicals performed by the group were popular productions such as “Hello, Dolly” and “Oklahoma!”

On March 2 and 3 the Bottineau Community Theatre presented “Seussical the Musical,” produced by Davis and directed by Kris Katarzy. It was held at the Holwell Auditorium at the high school in Bottineau.

Over the years, productions have been held at different locations in town, including the Armory and high school and at the Playhouse.

In 1987, the group purchased the old Presbyterian Church after the church group joined the Methodists and formed a united parish. The church became the Davis Playhouse. The group puts on one or two “dessert theater” productions, complete with fancy dinnerware and table cloths, during the summer.

Davis said the community theater group has had a number of dedicated members over the years, many professionals in the community who have formed close friendships. Membership is down a bit and younger people have been less active in the theater.

Davis said the Bottineau Community Theater sponsors the Missoula Children’s Theater and hopes to foster interest in performing among children and provide an opportunity for kids to be involved in the arts and carry the love of performing on to a new generation.

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