Back to School 1

Laine Bonstein, left, Ken Grinde and Erin Agner perform "Event Planning Committee" from the Montana Rep's "Back to School," staged at Willard Alternative School.

Here’s a quick guide to some upcoming arts and cultural events happening around Missoula in the coming week.

Missoula Monster Project

(Opens Friday, Oct. 1)

Now in its seventh year, the Missoula Monster Project remains true to its charming original vision.

The Zootown Arts Community Center partners with Missoula County Public Schools, and kindergartners from three schools (Lewis and Clark, Rattlesnake and Hawthorne) drew monsters for their class and wrote short descriptions. Then, more than 300 adult artists — two per child — signed up to interpret the fantastical creatures. The adult versions are for sale but go quickly. Head to for more information.

The gallery opening is on Friday from 5-8 p.m. Masks are required when not eating or drinking and entry will be staggered to keep numbers in the gallery limited. It’s on view all month.

Montana Rep’s ‘Back to School’

(Friday-Saturday, Oct. 1-2)

The Montana Repertory Theatre’s latest “Plays on Tap” series brings audiences to spaces around Willard School for short installments custom-written by a diverse group of writers that tackle the humor and hardship of teenage years.

Meet at Western Cider for a drink and then, at 7:30 p.m., jump on a school bus that will take you to Willard.

Go to for more details on how it all works or to buy tickets.

Dance on Location

(Saturday, Oct. 2)

Outside and innovative is the theme for the first fall semester performance by the Dance Program at the University of Montana. “Dance on Location,” a regular staple of their season pre-dating COVID-19, shows off creative works by students in the program at sites on campus.

“Dance on Location is an exciting opportunity for audiences to witness how students thrive in creating choreography inspired by alternative spaces,” assistant professor Brooklyn Draper said in a news release. “Dance does not only exist on a stage … it can flourish in unexpected places.”

Meet at the Mansfield Library Mall at noon, and then you’ll move from location to location for dance and performance-art installations. These particular original works have been dreamed up by students in the Creative Practice I course.

The performances are free.

UM Opera’s ‘Arias for Autumn’

(Sunday, Oct. 3)

The University of Montana Opera program will have an in-person performance to kick off the fall semester. “Arias for Autumn,” a gala concert, will give a sneak peek of an upcoming production, too. Doors to the ZACC Show Room open at 5:30 p.m. and the show starts at 6. Tickets are $15 general, $10 students, in advance or at the door.

Masks are required in the ZACC when not eating or drinking.

Meet the Open AIR artists during fall talks

(Oct. 5, 7, 9)

Artists have taken up new residencies around western Montana through the nonprofit Open AIR program, which has placed creators around Missoula and western Montana to develop new pieces of art. They’ll give talks about their work on these sites, where you can also take a tour of the facilities themselves.

The talks are as follows:

  • Oct. 5, 4-6 p.m.: Stephen Glueckert and Quinton Decker, Missoula Public Library’s Cooper Room.
  • Oct. 7, 4-6 p.m.: Tracy Hall, Montana Natural History Center.
  • Oct. 9, 12-2 p.m.: Nico Larsen, Historic Clark Chateau, Butte.
  • Oct. 22: 2-4 p.m.: Claire Emery and Michele Postma, Flathead Lake Biological Station, Polson.

For more information, head to

Jazz Night at the ZACC with Patti Nolan

(Thursday, Oct. 7)

Flow into the weekend an evening early with vocalist Patti Nolan and Jim Driscoll Trio, as the ZACC Show Room continues presenting jazz. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show’s at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance or at the door.