Long-time director Matzke retiring
By Shauna Stocken
For the vast majority of people who walk through the halls of LCC it is the start of the long road ahead.
For LCC professor and director Mary Matzke, October marks her last month at the college before retirement.
“I’m ready to retire, I just don’t know what my long-goal plans are because I don’t know what it’s like quite yet to be retired,” Matzke said.
After graduating high school in Portland, Matzke moved to the Lansing area to attend college at Michigan State University, earning her degree in theater.
“A lot of time when you major in something like the arts, and theater in particular, people are skeptical,” Matzke said. “That’s not very lucrative; you won’t get any work.”
Shortly after graduating college in 1988, Matzke discovered an open position at LCC, which she described as a blessing.
“I applied for the job and I got it, and immediately started teaching classes and immediately started directing shows,” Matzke said. “I had fallen in love with directing … That’s not always a practical degree, but I did what I loved, and the work followed.”
During Matzke’s 30-year career at LCC, she has directed over 30 productions. She said William Shakespeare’s, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is regarded as one of her most notable works.
“I have so many memorable stories with Mary,” said LCC Interim Performing Arts Director Paige Tufford. “I guess the first play I worked with her on, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” stands out the most. I was just getting to know her and was stage-managing for her on that production.”
Tufford said she has produced countless plays with Matzke, in the 25 years she has known and worked with her.
“Mary has taught a variety of classes over the years and has directed a variety of plays,” Tufford said. “Her approach to teaching beginning actors is very accessible to students. She has a way of communicating with students that just works.”
In Matzke’s last month at the college, she will direct her last production of “Dead Ringer,” Oct. 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. in the Gannon Building’s Black Box Theatre.
“Dead Ringer” cast member Michael Boxleitner said Matzke inspires cast members with her energy and her ability to get students involved.
“When I heard that this was her last show before retiring, and after reading the script, I knew I had to be a part of this production,” Boxleitner said.
Although, “Dead Ringer” marks the first time Boxleitner and Matzke have worked on a production together, Boxleitner said that Matzke has been his mentor since 2014 when they first met in LCC’s Studio One theater program.
“Mary was the first person in my time here in Michigan that really taught me how to push myself and think outside of the box in terms of my performance,” Boxleitner said. “In Studio One, she really taught me how to be more confident in myself on stage; that I’m supposed to be there.”
Matzke said what she will miss most about her time spent at the college will be her students. “They keep me young,” she said.
Join Matzke, Boxleitner and the rest of the Western-themed cast of “Dead Ringer,” for what Matzke described as her parting production.
“I guess it’s a good farewell sendoff for me because I have directed 35 (productions), at least, and have never done this style before,” Matzke said.
Tickets for “Dead Ringer” are $5 for students and $10 for all others.