Thornton Wilder’s “The Matchmaker,” the basis for the hit Broadway musical “Hello, Dolly,” will open at Wake Forest University Sept. 25.
The University Theater production continues Sept. 26 and 30 and Oct. 1-4.
Directed by Donald Wolfe, the fast-paced farce has people hiding under tables, falling out of suddenly opened cupboards and masquerading in other people’s costumes. Complete with asides, soliloquies and a broad style of dialogue and acting, the play is an example of 19th century slapstick.
It relates a day’s escapades in New York City for a group of people from nearby Yonkers in the 1880s. The action centers on a pompous, wealthy merchant (Randal Chou), who browbeats everyone-his niece, her sweetheart, his clerks and apprentices. He has gone to the city to seek a wife and is particularly interested in a demure milliner (Sarah Brewer). The matchmaking widow (Jennifer Blevins) assisting him in his quest has other ideas about whom he should marry. Everyone else has slipped off for adventure without wanting anyone else to know they are having a fling.
“The play is really about Dolly Levi taking a situation and working it around so Vandergelder (the merchant) proposes to her,” says Wolfe. “It should be tremendous fun!”
Because of the 100th anniversary of Wilder’s birth, many of his plays showed up on last year’s theater schedules, said Wolfe. “The anniversary generated more papersÖmore interest in Wilder,” he said. “We hadn’t done Wilder for a bit so we decided to do it.” Wolfe directed the university’s production of “Our Town” in 1990.
The 1880s set was designed by Darwin Payne. Pat Mueller designed the elaborate period costumes.
A symposium on Wilder will coincide with the opening weekend of the production, Sept. 25-26.
All performances are in the MainStage Theater in Scales Fine Arts Center. Tickets are $10, $5 for students. They may be purchased at the box office at 336-758-5295. The box office is open weekdays, noon-5:30 p.m.
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