By Sarah Gianelli EBS Contributor

BIG SKY – With an all-star cast of Broadway actors and artists alongside select local talent, Warren Miller Performing Arts Center introduces its first original theatrical production. One of Shakespeare’s most powerful plays, “The Winter’s Tale” will be exclusively presented in Big Sky on Saturday, Jan. 21, and Sunday, Jan. 22. 

Part comedy, part tragedy, part romance, “The Winter’s Tale” is a cautionary tale of a jealous king, his wronged queen and the magic (sometimes literal) that brings them redemption.

In a fit of wild, unfounded jealousy, Leontes, the King of Sicily, convinces himself that his pregnant wife is carrying his best friend’s love child. Leontes’s jealousy turns to tyranny as the king proceeds to destroy his entire family and a lifelong friendship.

Written toward the end of Shakespeare’s theatrical career, “The Winter’s Tale” spans 16 long years before culminating in arguably one of the most dramatic endings in English literature.

“The Winter’s Tale” has been reimagined and brought to life expressly for the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center stage by Broadway director Laura Savia, who participated in WMPAC’s first Big Sky Theater Workshop in the summer of 2015.

“I fell in love with Big Sky immediately,” Savia said. “The people were amazing, the environment was inspiring, and I flipped out over the rodeo.”

Savia said she has been looking for a way to come back to Big Sky and the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center ever since.   

WMPAC Artistic Director John Zirkle couldn’t be more thrilled that they found a way to make Savia’s return a reality.

“After seeing [Savia’s] work and getting to know her creative process, I knew that she could make a great show in our space,” Zirkle said. “The time that these artists are putting into this show, for our small community, is something for the history books. On a national scale, we are just a small mountain theater, and to have secured talent and vision like this is truly remarkable on all fronts.”

Savia’s rendition of the Shakespearean classic is a fast-paced, music-infused 90-minute ride, with just five actors playing more than 15 roles in a play that encompasses multiple generations.

Savia was attracted to “The Winter’s Tale” because of its inclusion of many genres—from slapstick comedy, to life and death drama, and music. 

“It’s extremely rare to find all of those elements in one play,” Savia said.

She also finds the play exceedingly timely in its exploration of a country whose fate hangs largely on the decisions of its leader and the tensions between fact and imagination—all wrapped up with the timeless themes of self-sabotage, forgiveness and redemption; love versus jealousy and youth versus age.  

In addition to the core cast of professional actors, the play will feature two local performers—one of Big Sky Broadway’s young stars, Henry Flach, in the role of King Leontes’ son; and Bozeman musician Milton Menasco as Cleomenes. 

“This is what great theater is made of,” Zirkle said. “Top national talent from Broadway and Hollywood working alongside developing local talent to make for a more organic world of performing arts.”

“The Winter’s Tale” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21, and Sunday, Jan. 22 at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and more information visit warrenmillerpac.org.