By Rex Kendall
You’ll find the Cutler Brother’s Theatre on Main street in Deer Lodge directly across from City Hall. On days the City Council isn’t meeting, the theater provides the best comedy and entertainment in the valley.
The theatre venture began in 2003 when brothers Kelly and Patrick Cutler decided to produce an SNL-styled comedy show generally known as Comedy Night. The first Comedy Night took place in July of 2003 at the historic Rialto Theatre and, to the brother’s surprise, nearly 200 people attended. Since that time, Cutler Brothers Productions has produced everything from live stand-up comedy and Improv to big name heavy metal bands, Broadway musicals and film productions.
The theatre is run by the Cutler Family, including mom, dad, the brothers Cutler and an army of volunteers. The family manages every aspect of their entertainment endeavors from directing the stage shows and films to marketing their efforts. When the Cutler brothers were barely of their diapers, their mother, Jeri-anne, gave them a VHS Video Camera. Initial Cutler Brother Productions included WWF wrestling matches in the backyard to “stop motion cartoons” which employed the brother’s toys, crayons and paper, and their endless imaginations. Starring in the early Cutler Brother films were the brothers, and countless friends and neighborhood children. Jeri-anne and their father Butch (Albert III) were quite often coerced into playing roles in the young artist’s films as well.
As the years went by, the brother’s cinematic capabilities and strengths grew. The Cutler boys were now developing plots and implementing costumes and visual effects into their short films. They bought newer equipment with their allowances after they dropped the original video camera in Cottonwood Creek while filming a remake of the movie “Daylight.” They also began to take an interest in live stage production as another outlet to exercise their creativity and performance ambitions.
Kelly Cutler’s first real audition was for Missoula Children Theatre’s “The Pied Piper” where he was cut from the roster with twenty other unfortunate children. Being a young boy that didn’t believe in “no” as an answer Kelly began producing his own stage productions in his parent’s backyard. He’d cast his brothers and neighborhood children, as well as parents and relatives. Then he would invite everybody he knew to watch the productions on a set made out of blankets and large cardboard boxes.
Cutler said they were always amazed when people actually showed up for our plays – even adults!
“We knew we were hitting the big time when we started putting girls in our horror movies, besides mom and my aunt Kathy. Patrick took to the film side of things, Matthew sunk his chops into technical effects, including a secret recipe for “Cutler Brother’s blood,” Kelly mused, “I fell in love with acting on film and the diversities of the live stage. We began labeling their endeavors ‘Cutler Brothers Productions’ more frequently.” Between 2005 and 2007, the brothers went on to produce several Broadway musicals and straight shows including “Calamity Jane,” Neil Simon’s “Rumors,” “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” and “Of Thee I Sing.”
Kelly wrote and produced two more original plays bringing his total to seven and Matt wrote and produced an original play titled ‘The Setup’. In the summer of 2007 the brothers produced their second feature length movie ‘Mad Dad.’
After “Of Thee I Sing” and Comedy Night 13 in 2008 the brothers looked for a new venue to host their summer seasons. Cutler Brothers Productions was six years old and the entertainment company had acquired quite a load of sets and costumes. (Twelve truckloads to be exact.)
In March of 2011 the brothers held auditions for the popular Broadway musical ‘Annie’. Over 70 people showed up for the audition and the Cutler brothers, having no place of their own yet, turned back to the Old Montana Prison stage to produce the show. “Annie” was a massive success selling out every performance. Following the 2011 season, the Cutlers purchased an old hardware building on Main Street, gutted it, built a stage, and drove to Bonham, Texas to buy theater seats for $1 a piece. In the summer of 2012 Cutler Brothers Productions produced their first full summer stock season since 2007, beginning with Broadway’s ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’.
Since that time Cutler Brothers Productions has upgraded their theater significantly and produced a successful summer stock season every year. They are now looking forward to their fourth year in their new facility.
The brothers have produced everything from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to ‘Of Mice and Men’ and they employ talents from all over the state of Montana.
On top of the brother’s summer stock seasons they also produce live standup comedy shows that have seen the likes of several Comedy Central comedians, heavy metal bands such as ‘Girl on Fire’ and ‘Walking Corpse Syndrome. Every October they produce ‘The Cutler Brothers Creepshow’, an interactive haunted house that requires a cast of 30 plus. The ‘Creepshow’ takes place inside the walls of the Old Montana Prison, making it a truly creepy experience and a huge draw for people all around the west.
Also in 2011, work began on the Cutler Brother’s third full-length film. ‘The Cottonwood City Project’ is a unique film that shares hints of “Napoleon Dynamite,” “Jackass,” and “The Blaire Witch Project.” The movie was accepted to the Los Angeles Comedy Festival and was nominated for Best Original Picture.
Another film is in the works, working title ‘Home Video’, that is scheduled for release before the end of the year.
Cutler Brothers production of ‘Mary Poppins’ kicks off the Deer Lodge theater’s 2015 season and runs May 1 – 17 with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sunday matinees as 2:00 pm. Tickets are $15 and reservations are strongly encouraged as the theatre has limited seating space. Reservations may be made by calling Cutler Brother’s Box Office at (406) 846-4096.
The rest of the 2015 season will bring the intense drama “To Kill a Mockingbird” in June and the sizzling hit “Chicago” in July and August. Season passes are available at Steeles of Butte or by calling the number above. Visit cutlerbros.com for more information.
Besides readying their casts for Summer Stock 2015 in Deer Lodge, Cutler Brothers Productions continues to make plans for future projects, bigger movies, and innovative ideas to push the limits of their creativity. The company looks to turn Deer Lodge into a Northwest entertainment mecca. For the last few years, CBP offered a non-profit summer school for area youngsters. Next year the ‘Rising Star Academy’ will expand to include high school grads from around the country in a preparatory school focused entirely on stage and film production.
“It’s our hope to turn our hometown into a college town once again,” said Cutler, “Anyone looking to pursue careers in theatre, film, or the arts will be able to begin here, in one of the most beautiful areas in Montana. Throw in all the recreational opportunities from fly fishing to skiing and the bonus of a small town, family friendly atmosphere and you won’t be able to find a better place on the planet to watch your dreams come true