March 5, 2007

Purdue theater student hits stage in national tour of 'Legends!'

Ethan Matthews
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A Purdue University theater graduate student is jumpstarting his acting career with a role in the national tour of "Legends!" a production starring former "Dynasty" divas Linda Evans and Joan Collins.

Matthew Erickson, 25, who changed his name to Ethan Matthews for his professional career, is simultaneously finishing his master of fine arts degree in acting and traveling across the country with the national tour of "Legends!" He plays the role of the "cop" and acts as the standby of the producer Martin Klemmer in the play, which centers on two somewhat desperate and waning movie stars who are courted by an unscrupulous young producer to star in a Broadway show together despite the fact they hate each other.

Scene from "Legends"
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Along with learning lines, dissecting the script, working on character and learning two roles for the production, Matthews, originally from Buffalo, N.Y., spent many late nights and early mornings at the beginning of the tour working on his thesis, which is about his experience while on tour with "Legends!" both on stage and behind the scenes.

"Getting this kind of experience at this point in my career is pretty crazy," he said. "I had expected to be in graduate school for three years, but this opportunity was too good to pass up. I didn't want to leave Purdue's program, so I was glad I was able to finish my thesis on the road."

Matthews is just wrapping up a two-week run at the LaSalle Bank Theatre in Chicago and will head next to Boston for shows from March 6-11. "Legends!" will be in Cleveland; Fort Worth, Texas; Fayetteville, Ark.; Memphis; Fort Myers, Fla.; Raleigh, N.C.; and New Haven, Conn., before ending its tour in May.

The end of the "Legends!" tour won't be the only change Matthews will confront come May: he'll be receiving his master of fine arts degree from Purdue.

"While on tour, I've had some meetings in Los Angeles and Denver about possible film, stage and television opportunities," he said. "I hope I am able to continue building a buzz about my acting and make additional connections in the industry during the final stops of this tour."

For now, Matthews plans to go back to New York following graduation and after the tour to strategize about his next career step.

Russ Jones, division chair and associate professor of theater, said he has high hopes for Matthews, who starred in Purdue's production of "A Story About a Girl" in spring 2006.

"Often in life we find ourselves hoping that success will come to those who deserve it the most," Jones said. "Matt Erickson represents all that is good about our graduate acting program: a talented actor, working extremely hard in an intensive training program, comes face-to-face with the ideal professional opportunity. 'How will he handle the situation?' The answer comes easily: Matt will handle anything they throw at him.

"I have complete confidence that Matt is a wonderful representative of Purdue Theatre and that his success will continue for years to come. He is most deserving of this opportunity to earn his equity card, work with very famous people and advance his career in one huge leap."

Matthews holds a bachelor of fine arts degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo and recently played Sir Andrew Aguecheek in "Twelfth Night," directed by Robert Cohen for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. He also has presented work in Italy, Greece, France, England and Canada as a delegate in International Artistic Exchange for the United States.

Writer: Christy Jones, (765) 494-1089,

Sources: Russ Jones, (765) 494-3081,

Ethan Matthews, (716) 954-3227,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Related Web sites:
Purdue Theatre:


Purdue graduate student Ethan Matthews, second from left, is starring in a national tour of Legends! a comedy by Tony Award-winning author James Kirkwood. The play centers on two somewhat desperate and waning movie stars played by Linda Evans and Joan Collins, both former stars of the television series "Dynasty." Tonye Patano, far left, also is featured in the production. (Photo courtesy of Carol Rosegg)

A publication-quality photo is available at


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