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The Matthews and BHSU Theater collaborate for 5th year with “The Phantom of the Matthews Opera House”

BHSU alum wrote the family-friendly melodrama for The Matthews in 1976

Author: BHSU Communications/Wednesday, June 12, 2019/Categories: Events, Students, Alumni, College of Liberal Arts, Community, Events, Faculty, 2019

Is The Matthews haunted? Forty-three years after it first hit the stage, “The Phantom of The Matthews Opera House” is again a summer draw for Black Hills community members and visitors. This is in thanks to a collaborative effort between The Matthews and Black Hills State University. The performances are 7:30 p.m. every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night in July.
Tickets are on sale now for $12 adults and $6 for youth (18 and under) and BHSU students. Tickets are available online at or at The Matthews’ art gallery during business hours, Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by phone at 605-642-7973.  
“We are so proud to provide a summer tradition like “The Phantom” to residents and visitors of the Black Hills each year,” said Becky Naccarato Eastburn, executive director of The Matthews. “The show is incredibly funny and a great way to spend an evening with your family!”
Summer theater at The Matthews has been entertaining Black Hills’ visitors for years. Mistie Caldwell, executive director of Visit Spearfish recalls, “When I was growing up in Spearfish in the 80s, ‘The Phantom of The Matthews Opera House’ was a staple of summer evening entertainment. I am thrilled that the play came back to the stage in the summer of 2015. Now, going into its fifth year, it is a must see for locals and visitors during July. It is a great weekday entertainment option. If you are looking for something for a group of people to do while visiting, “The Phantom” is perfect. The venue has seating for your family, class reunion, bus tour, or wedding party. Seeing “The Phantom” isn’t just about the melodrama, the setting is second-to-none. So, don’t just take in the play, take in the scenery and make memories to last a lifetime.”
BHSU professor of theater, Albert Juhrend, directs this summer’s show featuring a professional cast of BHSU students and community members. “Mark your calendars for this summer’s production of Phantom. We will be bringing the gaiety of the old west back to the stage. This high energy production is a laugh from start to finish. You don’t want to miss it,” comments Juhrend.
Paul Higbee, a BHSU alumnus, wrote the melodrama in 1976 specifically for The Matthews stage. “I was just out of school in 1976 and we were looking for a play that would show off the whole theater as the setting with entrances from all over and use of the balcony and back seats,” said Higbee. “We also wanted a show that would play off the story that The Matthews is haunted.”
“The Phantom” includes music and comedy, along with several opportunities for audience interaction and participation. The classic card girl introducing each act is a humorous throw back to vaudeville days. Higbee says the audience will want to “cheer” the good guys and “boo” the bad guys while watching for the Phantom’s next appearance.
Cast members include Collin Pea, Gabriella Hertz, Tyler Schone, Hannah Rehmeier,  Benjamin Van Cleave, Lanaya Young, Zac Zwaschka, Kylee Jones, Justin Woodward, and Isabelle Drumm (as the Card Girl).
The Matthews and BHSU hope to continue to bring “The Phantom” to the stage annually, nodding to the rich history of the show’s performances in Spearfish throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s. The melodrama was one of the first pieces performed at The Matthews when the Opera House was being revitalized, a trend that spilled over onto the streets of Spearfish leading to the regeneration of the city’s downtown.
Funding for “The Phantom of The Matthews Opera House” is provided in part by Visit Spearfish, The Matthews, and Black Hills State University.
The next event at The Matthews is the 42nd Festival in the Park, a three-day event of arts, crafts, and music, July 19-21. “Mighty Brother” will be the headlining band for Friday’s Wristband Night.  For additional information or to learn about upcoming events, visit

Gabriella Hertz, psychology and communication studies/theatre major, as Mary
Collin Pea, physical science major from Berthoud, Colo., as Gary
Tyler Schone, English major from Sturgis, as Walter Cobblebaum

Hannah Rehmeier, music education major from St. Onge, as Ruby
Lanaya Young, special education major from Rapid City, as Reporter Penelope Penn
Benjamin Van Cleave as Buster
Zac Zwaschka, English major from Spearfish, as Head Cowboy Wrangler
Kylee Jones, speech communication education major from Spearfish, as Prudence
Justin Woodward, psychology and human services major from Spring Lake, N.J., as Lloyd Fine
Isabelle Drumm of Spearfish as the Card Girl

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