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Pioneer Playhouse Returns in More Ways than One!


Pioneer Playhouse of Danville will kick off its 69th season under the stars with a sequel to a big hit from five years ago: The Return of Tinker Doyle by award-winning local playwright, Elizabeth Orndorff.

Part of the historic theatre’s decade-long “Kentucky Voices” series, The Return of Tinker Doyle revisits the characters and situations first presented in The Search for Tinker Doyle, which starred Playhouse favorites Eben French Mastin and Patricia Hammond as Mayor and Mrs. McConnell, a couple from a small Kentucky town who travel to Ireland to woo a sister city.

_Tinker02The Search for Tinker Doyle was written by Orndorff as a fictional celebration of the very real bond shared by Danville and its own Sister City, Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland.

At the time, Orndorff had been chosen as the first artist to participate in an artist exchange between the two towns. Her first play was borne out of the experience of traveling to the picturesque coastal town and soaking up the local Irish culture.

“Liz took the idea of a mayor going to Ireland,” explains Heather Henson, Managing Director of Pioneer Playhouse, “but then she created a lot of fun complications, like the Mayor’s wife using the trip as a way to look up a long lost Irish love.”

“A lot of locals thought I patterned the mayor in the play after an actual Danville mayor, but it isn’t true,” says Orndorff. “I fashioned him after Playhouse actor Eben French Mastin’s larger than life personality! And I gave Pat’s character my own memory of dating a young Irish waiter as a college student many moons ago. The waiter’s name was Tinker Doyle, and I always loved that name, and I also wondered what would happen if Mrs. Mayor went looking for an old flame.”

In first play, the elusive Tinker Doyle is finally found, but there’s a surprise twist: Tinker Doyle has become Father Doyle. Now in The Return of Tinker Doyle, it’s Father Doyle who’s coming to Danville, years later, on a cultural exchange that has the whole town buzzing.

_Tinker03“The role of Tinker Doyle was originally played by renowned Irish actor, Kieran Cunningham,” says Henson. “We had hoped to bring Kieran back, but unfortunately that fell through at the 11th hour. So we are pleased to announce that another Playhouse favorite, Daniel Hall Kuhn, will be jumping into Tinker’s shoes.”

A fan favorite for nearly twenty years, Kuhn was last seen on the Playhouse stage five years ago in the high-energy farce, A Visit from Scarface.

“Daniel is one of those actors audiences ask for again and again,” says Henson. “So we’re thrilled that he’ll be returning to fans who love him.”

While The Return of Tinker Doyle is a sequel, Henson wants to assure patrons that they don’t have to have seen the original to enjoy the new play.

“This is a fun, light-hearted comedy about love and life, cultural differences, and the sometimes crazy lengths people go to revisit their youth,” says Henson. “It’s also full of Irish music and dance, and so I dare audiences not to clap – and possibly even jig – along!”

The Return of Tinker Doyle opens June 8 and runs through June 23. Shows are nightly, Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:30 pm. An optional pre-show dinner is available with reservations at 7:30 pm.

Dinner at the historic theatre usually consists of BBQ pulled pork or chicken, but in honor of the play’s Irish theme, Chef Tom Hansen will be preparing a traditional Irish meal of Corned Beef and Cabbage, colecannon, and other farm-fresh sides. Dinner and show is $32 per person; show only is $18 per person. A bar serving beer, wine and spirits will be open to those 21 and older, during dinner and the show.


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