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Tin Roof Theatre Company opens “The Matchmaker” Friday


Tin Roof Theatre Company is closing the spring theater season on a farcical note. The local theater collective knew it wanted to do a classic comedy with “some substance” for its spring production, according to the director Charlies Chinquist, and they found that in “The Matchmaker” by Thornton Wilder.

Wilder debuted “The Matchmaker” in 1955, which was rewritten from his 1938 play “The Merchant of Yonkers.” It was later adapted into the well-known 1964 musical “Hello, Dolly!”

Chinquist says contemporary playwrights have called “The Matchmaker,” which opens May 4 at the Stage at Island Park, one of the greatest comedies of the 20th century. The Tin Roof Theatre member of eight years agrees.

“The play contains a lot of humor, while at the same time it examines several philosophies of life,” he says.

“The Matchmaker” follows Horace Vandergelder (Craig Roath), a wealthy merchant in 19th century New York who decides to take a wife. To help with his search, he hires a matchmaker named Dolly Levi (Myra Nowak). Dolly becomes involved with two of Horace’s clerks, several lovely ladies and the headwaiter at a restaurant where the swift farce runs into hilarious complications.

Fourteen cast members grace the stage for the production, with two actors playing double roles (see the cast list below). Many of the actors are long-standing members with Tin Roof Theatre.

Cook (Rita Hagstrom) looking “here and there and everywhere” for Flora Van-Huysen (Karla Pedersen)’s smelling salts. Hagstrom and Pedersen are both long-standing Tin Roof Theatre members.

Monika Browne-Ecker, assistant director of the show, has been a member since 2014. She plays Irene Molly, a milliner who owns a hat store and is a “delightfully quirky character,” Browne-Ecker says.

“I love playing her because she is a woman who is bursting with energy but feels very constrained by the limits society puts on her as a widow and a shop owner,” she says. “She is a bit scheming and playful with the two men who unwittingly seek refuge in her store, but instead (they) fall into the hands of the intelligent and fierce (Dolly).”

Browne-Ecker looks forward to the mistaken identities, physical gags and the beautiful costumes.

“There’s something very exciting about wearing a gibson girl wig and a dress with a bustle,” she says. “It really makes the era and its characters come alive.”

Cast members left to right: Aidan Sears (Barnaby Tucker), Marissa Madsen (Minnie Fay), Paul Hartmann II (Cornelius Hackl) and Monika Browne-Ecker (Irene Molloy).

Chinquist, who is retiring from Tin Roof Theatre after this production, says he hopes the take-away for audience members is “that it is okay to sometimes take a chance on trying something new.”

Tin Roof Theatre Company’s primary goal is to produce high quality, challenging theatrical productions focusing on American classics that entertain, enrich and educate the community.

Performances of “The Matchmaker” are at 7:30 p.m.  May 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12 and at 2 p.m. May 6 and 13 at the Stage and Island Park. To purchase tickets, visit tinrooftheater.org or call the box office at 701-235-6778.

“The Matchmaker” cast list:
Dolly Levi – Myra Nowak
Horace Vandergelder – Craig Roath
Irene Molloy – Monika Browne-Ecker
Cornelius Hackl – Paul Hartmann
Barnaby Tucker – Aidan Sears
Minnie Fay – Marissa Madsen
Malachi Stack – Mark Seeba
Ambrose Kemper – Jacob Kalvoda
Ermengarde – Amber Dean
Miss Flora Van Huysen – Karla Pederson
Joe Scanlon/Rudolph – Mike Lochow
Gertrude/Cook – Rita Hagstrom
Cabman – Shaun Ganyo
August – Tristan Duerr