Taking in dinner and a show during your visit to Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park may not have originally been on your radar or part of your plans, but surprise! You can most happily do just that by spending an evening at Jackson Hole Playhouse. The Playhouse is a gem of a cultural offering here in the Tetons, featuring top-notch theatrical performances in a building as old as Jackson itself.
A Favorite Jackson Hole Attraction
When you think of Jackson Hole, you probably picture the Grand Teton, the bright red Aerial Tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and the iconic elk antler arches in Town Square. OK, fair enough. But the decidedly eclectically Western Jackson Hole Playhouse—located just steps off Town Square—is actually another famed attraction. In fact, TripAdvisor rates it a “Top Jackson Hole Attraction.”
“This is one of the original Jackson Hole traditions.” — Vicki Garnick, owner, Jackson Hole Playhouse
Wyoming's longest-running professional dinner theater promises you a full evening of Western entertainment, from gun-slingin', singing waiters to fully-staged musical comedies.
“This is truly one of the original Jackson attractions,” says Playhouse owner Vicki Garnick. "You are going to go home with an incredible memory.”
What: Jackson Hole Playhouse
Where: 145 W. Deloney Ave.
Shows: Western-themed musicals during the summer season (Memorial Day through first week in October); original parodies and a Christmas show during the rest of the year.
When: Monday-Saturday (in summer), 6:30 p.m. dinner/8 p.m. show
Shows appropriate for: All ages!
How much: Dinner and the show is $75 for adults, $55 kids. Show-only tickets are $40 (adults), $25 (kids).
Box office: 307-733-6994
Jackson Hole Playhouse caters to families with its family-friendly performances. But the building has a rich history of other uses.
Built in 1915 as a livery stable, the Playhouse is Jackson's oldest building. In 1920 it became the town’s Model T Ford dealership. As 1930 rolled along, the building went through several incarnations: a bowling ally, mercantile and local post office (original postal boxes are still on the premises). In 1948, Vera Cheney brought her first piano player from New York City to Jackson Hole and transformed the previous mercantile into a theater. When the building became a theater, the name changed from the Diamond Lil, Dirty Jack’s, the Pink Garter and finally, the Jackson Hole Playhouse.
The theater featured original shows at first. Then in 1984—six years after Vicki and her late husband, Cameron, bought the business—they produced “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” which had been a Broadway and Hollywood hit musical. Thus began a new era where the Playhouse began performing recognizable, family-friendly musicals for the summer season.
“We had no idea we would find this caliber of talent,” visitors say of the productions.
From Memorial Day weekend through the first week in October, the professional actors at Jackson Hole Playhouse put on a top-notch performance Monday through Saturday, starting with dinner at 5 and 6:30 p.m.; the show starts at 8. “The Ballad of Cat Ballou” and "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" have been recent past summer's musicals and this summer the actors are presenting "Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." During the rest of the year, the theater troupe does more original shows with smaller casts. During December, visitors can attend the Christmas show from early December until the first week in January. There are also lively spoofs performed in February and March.
“The outside perception is so different from the inside reality,” says Vicki. “What we have here is an incredible treasure chest and people will say over and over again: ‘We had no idea we would find this caliber of talent and show production’… this incredible environment all wrapped up into this one package.”
People have been coming to the Playhouse in the summer for generations.
Vicki reports that at least nightly someone comes up to her and says, “You know, I came here when I was a kid and now here I am with my own family.”
More Than Just a Show
The same actors who sing and dance in the summer musicals—who double as your waiters and waitresses for the pre-show dinner—are additionally members of the “Shootout Gang” that takes over Town Square for the famous Jackson Hole Shootout, America's longest-running shoot out. Performed in the street six nights a week, it is filled with singing, dancing, laughs and gun fighting.
The fact that the Playhouse musical’s actors do triple duty makes an evening at the theater extra special for the entire family. The kids, especially, will delight in watching the actors in the shootout, and then have them bring their dinner with a smile and a song and finally, perform on stage!
“You will not find any production in the country that gives you so much for so little.” – recent reviewer on TripAdvisor
The Saddle Rock Saloon within the Playhouse seats family-style to accommodate all guests. Meals include salad, bread, soft drinks, and main entree with sides. There is also a children’s menu. Desserts, specialty sodas, wine and beer are available for an additional purchase.
The cost for dinner and the show is $75 for adults, $55 kids. Show-only tickets are $40 (adults), $25 kids. For reservations call the box office at 307-733-6994 or visit jacksonholeplayhouse.com
Fun Fact: The Jackson Hole Playhouse is haunted by a few friendly ghosts of past performers! Some years back, a paranormal team brought cameras into the theater and filmed a documentary on the protective, and decidedly not scary, apparitions.