WTC stages “Over the River and Through the Woods”

David Ackroyd directs the warm-hearted, boisterous comedy Oct. 18-26

On Stage

Veteran actor and director David Ackroyd directs the warm-hearted, boisterous comedy, “Over the River and Through the Woods,” Whitefish Theatre Company’s first mainstage theatre production of its 2019-2020 season.

This hilarious family play, written by award-winning playwright Joe DiPietro (“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” “Memphis”) runs at the O’Shaughnessy Center in Whitefish at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18-26, with a sneak preview performance at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17.

Meet 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 that he is 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 funny and touching story about deep familial love and the inevitable little heartbreaks that occur as time passes and children grow.

Ackroyd, an experienced Broadway actor and off-Broadway director, brings considerable skill and virtuosity to WTC’s 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 Company 15 years ago and led directly to the founding of Alpine Theatre Project,” recalls Ackroyd. “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 and Through the Woods” 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,” says Ackroyd. “And it’s set in a world I grew up in – suburban New Jersey. Many of my schoolmates came from that same hardworking, 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,” he adds.

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.

While the family in “Over the River …” isn’t the Sopranos, “it nevertheless exerts its own kind of pressure that seems almost as intimidating to an ambitious young man whose dreams are at odds with the traditions of his famiglia,” observes Ackroyd.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, and $10 for students with reserved seating, and are available at the Box Office, 1 Central Ave., Whitefish, by calling 406-862-5371 or online at Tickets are $10-$12 for the sneak preview Oct. 17, and only available at the door.