- The Matchmaker
"The Matchmaker" is a play by
The play has a long and colorful history.
John Oxenford's 1835 one-act farce"A Day Well Spent" had been extended into a full-length play entitled " Einen Jux will er sich machen" by Austrian playwright Johann Nestroyin 1842. In 1938, Wilder adapted Nestroy's version into an Americanized comedyentitled " The Merchant of Yonkers", which attracted the attention of German director Max Reinhardt, who mounted a Broadway production. It was a dismal failure, running for a mere 39 performances.
Fifteen years later, director
Tyrone Guthrieexpressed interest in a new production of the play, which Wilder extensively rewrote and rechristened "The Matchmaker". The most significant change was the expansion of a previously minor character named Dolly Gallagher Levi, who became the play's centerpiece. A widow who brokers marriages and other transactions in Yonkers, New Yorkat the turn of the 20th Century, she sets her sights on local merchant Horace Vandergelder, who has hired her to find him a wife. After a series of slapsticksituations involving mistaken identities, secret rendezvous behind carefully-placed screens, separated lovers, and a trip to night court, everyone finds themselves paired with a perfect match.
The play was a success at the
Edinburgh Festivalin Scotlandand at the Theatre Royal Drury Lanein London's West End before finally opening on Broadway on December 5 1955at the Royale Theatre, later transferring to the Booth to complete its run of 486 performances. Ruth Gordon's performance in the title role earned her a Tony Awardnomination as Best Actress; Guthrie won as Best Director.
The 1958 film version, adapted by
John Michael Hayesand directed by Joseph Anthony, starred Shirley Booth, Anthony Perkins, Shirley MacLaine, Paul Ford, and Robert Morse.
In 1964, the play enjoyed yet another incarnation when
David Merrick, who had produced the 1955 Broadway production, mounted a hugely successful, Tony Award-winning musical version entitled "Hello, Dolly!", with a score by Jerry Hermanand starring Carol Channing.
Tom Stoppard's farce, On the Razzle (1981) is yet another play based on the same story.
Characters and original Broadway cast
*Horace Vandergelder, a Merchant of Yonkers –
*Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi, a Friend of Vandergelder's Late Wife –
*Irene Molloy, a Milliner –
*Minnie Fay, Mrs. Molloy's Assistant –
*Cornelius Hackl, Clerk in Vandergelder's Store – Arthur Hill
*Barnaby Tucker, Apprentice in Vandergelder's Store –
*Miss Flora Van Husen, a Friend of Vandergelder's Late Wife –
*Malachi Stack –
*Ambrose Kemper, Artist –
*Gertrude, Vandergelder's Housekeeper –
*Miss Van Huysen's Cook –
*Rudolf, Waiter –
*Joe Scanlon, a Barber –
*August, Waiter –
* [http://www.ibdb.com/production.asp?ID=2561 Internet Broadway Database listing]
* [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051913/ Internet Movie Database listing]
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