Basin Electric electrical engineer by day, prince by night

Into the Woods, Roemmich and Carpenter

LaDonna Carpenter, supervisor of Basin Electric’s support center, plays the Baker’s Wife, and Chris Roemmich, senior electrical engineer at Transmission System Maintenance – Mandan, plays Rapunzel’s Prince in Sleepy Hollow Theatre’s production of “Into the Woods.”

Chris Roemmich is not your typical engineer … at least not in the evenings.

Let’s be honest. Engineers often get a bad rap for being technical, analytical, logical … even dry and boring. A stereotypically left-brained group of people. And during the day, Roemmich tends to fit that mold, working as a senior electrical engineer at the Transmission System Maintenance (TSM) – Mandan shop, where he is responsible for relay protection and equipment and compliance-related activities of Basin Electric’s transmission system.

But at night, he sheds the engineer stereotype and steps onto a stage.

“In high school and college I was in choir and even played in a garage band,” Roemmich laughs. One of the few people lucky enough to be good at math and science and the arts, Roemmich says he decided to take the ‘safe’ path in college, pursuing an engineering degree with the intention of doing the other things on the side just for fun. Then life happened.

He got married, had a family, and got into the routines of daily life. When his wife left the house to participate in recreational basketball and volleyball leagues, he stayed home and watched their kids, sometimes playing the guitar and piano for them, but not anyone else.

Then around Christmas time, his wife saw a post on social media that Sleepy Hollow Theatre was doing its first-ever adult production. The show was “Into the Woods,” a musical that intertwines the plots of several well-known fairy tales. The post announced a second round of auditions looking specifically for men, and they were being held the next day.

“She encouraged me to try out, to get involved with music again. To get out and be social with others who have similar interests,” Roemmich says.

After a little convincing from his wife, he prepared an audition piece – a song from the play – auditioned, and was cast as Rapunzel’s Prince in the production.

While he admits it was a little nerve-wracking at first, he says it became more natural as rehearsals progressed. “It has been intense,” he says. “We started right after Christmas, so there was only three weeks from our first rehearsal until opening night. We’ve practiced every night except New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.”

LaDonna Carpenter, supervisor of Basin Electric’s support center, is also in the production, playing the Baker’s Wife. Like Roemich, she had taken a long sabbatical from theater since majoring in voice in college. “Two years ago I tried out for my first play in 20-plus years, so I know how intimidating it can be coming into a room with a bunch of experienced actors,” she says. (Read a 2016 story on Carpenter’s performance: Basin Electric employee hopes theater production spreads important message.) “But Chris is doing a fantastic job. He is funny, has an incredible singing voice, and takes the stage like a seasoned pro – I was shocked to learn that he hadn’t done it in so long.”

Roemmich says he hasn’t told his fellow engineers and colleagues at Mandan TSM about his newfound stardom, but fully expects to get ribbed mercilessly if they happen to find out.

“Into the Woods” is being held at Sixteen03 Main Events in Bismarck, North Dakota Jan. 25-27 at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased on Sleepy Hollow’s website.

Comments

  1. Special K says:

    Chris Rocks!

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