Whitefish Theatre Co. opens season with family comedy

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Cast members Patty Thiel, Matt Strool and Mona Charles appear in Whitefish Theatre Co.’s production of “Over the River and Through the Woods.”

The Whitefish Theatre Co.’s first main-stage theater production of the season is the hilarious family comedy “Over the River and Through the Woods,” written by award-winning playwright Joe DiPietro (“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”, “Memphis”).

The plays introduces Nick, a young single man who has managed to be the only member of his family who still lives near his two sets of Italian-American grandparents in suburban New Jersey. He sees them every Sunday for dinner, a night that is governed by the three “Fs” — family, faith and food. However, when Nick tells his family he’s moving to Seattle for his dream job, the wily elders decide to launch a barrage of emotional blackmail to keep Nick around, including a cooked-up matchmaking scheme with the lovely Caitlin. Will the prospect of true love keep Nick from moving across the country? Find out in this warm-hearted, boisterously funny and touching story about deep familial love and the inevitable little heartbreaks that occur as time passes and children grow.

David Ackroyd is the director of “Over the River and Through the Woods.” His experience as both a Broadway actor and off-Broadway director brings his expertise to the local stage.

“Joe DiPietro’s musical ‘I Love you, You’re Perfect, Now Change’ marked my first professional collaboration with Betsi Morrison, Luke Walrath and Whitefish Theatre Co. 15 years ago and led directly to the founding of Alpine Theatre Project,” Ackroyd said. “I was struck then by DiPietro’s ability to write sharp, smart, sometimes hilarious comedy that dealt with romantic love in various stages of relationships.

“Over the River …” is about family, in particular an Italian-American family, whose passion for tengo famiglia — which translates very roughly as “family above everything else” — can seem overbearing to a younger generation.

“And it’s set in a world I grew up in — suburban New Jersey,” Ackroyd added. “Many of my schoolmates came from that same hard-working, blue collar, immigrant background as the characters in this play. If I had a nickel for every raviolo I ate when I was a kid, I’d own a beach house on the Amalfi coast.”

The production features Matt Strool as Nick, Scott Plotkin as Frank, Mona Charles as Aida, Giuseppe Caltabiano as Nunzio, Patty Thiel as Emma, and Jessica Moore as Caitlin.

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