Thursday, February 14, 1:30 pm, The Arizona Senior Academy Building
Directed by Academy Village Resident Mary Mitchell
The plot of this lively farce has continued to delight audiences in a great many versions beginning in the 1830’s and 40’s in Europe. Thornton Wilder’s 1955 play, The Matchmaker, is set in 1880’s New York (Yonkers). With Ruth Gordon as the matchmaker Dolly Levi, it was an immediate success on Broadway, running for 486 performances. Yet this hilarious farce, replete with unpredictable situations, is perhaps even better known in its musical incarnation, Hello Dolly (1964), with a score by Jerry Herman, starring Carol Channing on Broadway and Barbara Streisand in the popular movie (1969). The play has never lost its appeal. As recently as 2018, Bette Midler was highly acclaimed for her Broadway revival of Dolly. In Wilder’s play Dolly is a charmer who may be meddlesome and scheming, but she is working sincerely to unite lovers, without forgetting herself, of course.
Wilder’s play is truly a tour-de-force of mistaken identities, secret assignations, zany antics, unexpected twists and turns, and perfectly timed exits and entrances. The depth and richness of the characters makes them likable in their foibles. Because we care about them, their hide-and-seek antics, false assumptions and near collisions engage us and excuse their improbabilities. The plot strings us along until finally the confusion clears, identities are revealed, and the right couples find each other at the very last moment.
Mary Mitchell has a strong background in television and theater as a writer/producer. For several years she co-directed a community reader’s theater in Oxford, Ohio, and since retiring to Arizona has directed a number of play readings at the Arizona Senior Academy. Under her direction the ASA reading group now brings to a Valentine’s Day audience this lively reading with its gift of hearty laughter.
Written by Maria Dobozy, Academy Village Volunteer