James’ Brand New Blog

The Matchmaker & #ssf2012 opening week wrapup

- June 4th, 2012

622_Matchmaker_On The Run(2)

From left: Mike Shara as Cornelius Hackl, Laura Condlln as Irene Molloy, Andrea Runge as Minnie Fay and Josh Epstein as Barnaby Tucker in The Matchmaker. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann. Copyright (c) Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

It may be that six nights in a row at Stratford last week meant theatrefatigue would set in . . . so perhaps that’s the reason The Matchmaker didn’t catch me.

For about two-thirds of the way, the Thornton Wilder classic with its Yonkerites lost & found in New York, misapprehensions, doors slamming, big complicated sets, marriage prospects, miserliness & money messages was lots of fun. Then, as the characters gather for the inevitable explanations & romantic sorting outs, the comic energy seemed to become exhausted & exhausting . . . an opinion not shared by many in the audience on Saturday night at the Festival Theatre who laughed all the way along.

So don’t let this stop you. JBNBlog applauds the Wilder wisdom shared by Dolly (Seanna McKenna) & Malachi (Geraint Wyn Davies) & the magical moment when Horace (Tom McCamus) realizes he must choose between love & money. The Cornelius (Mike Shara) and Irene (Laura Condlin) romance hits it own money/love jackpot when Horace’s cash comes by chance to Cornelius, his impoverished & downtrodden clerk, just as the bill for their double-date at the classiest of NY restaurants arrives. Tom McCamus provides this installment’s inevitable #ldnont connection.

Looking back on the week, the must-see is Cymbeline . . . which has had rave reviews from QMI colleagues Laura Cudworth & John Coulbourn. Long-beloved in theory by JBNBlog, Cymbeline receives its long overdue place in the Pantheon from director Antoni Cimolino & company at the Tom Patterson stage. My own admiration had flourished even after having seen a less-than-great production in London UK . . . Cimolino’s Cymbeline keeps ascending & masters the swift shifting from laughter to marvelling to miracles needed to keep it from derailing . . . this Cymbeline soars & it’s a joy to see those words & mad plots made so clear & fairytalesque. Bravo. (You still might want to read it first — or at least a plot summary. It’s complicated).

Also on offer are Deborah Hay & Ben Carlson in a masterly Much Ado, the energy & intelligence of 42nd Street, the grown-up kids of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown & the steampunk Pirates of Penzance  . . . & the undeniable attractions of Matchmaker.

A happy week of sustained theatrical excellence & creativity . . . Stratford’s “second” opening week beckons in a month or so.

Inevitable #ldnont trivia question:

About four years after the first approach (1939, see notes to Matchmaker) Thornton Wilder collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock on a classic dark masterpiece set in small-t0wn USA. Which London actor had a supporting role & what was the character’s macabre pastime?

Fest’s Matchmaker connection & more from a media release:

The Matchmaker is an apt choice for inclusion in the Festival’s 60th season, since Stratford played a key role in the play’s creation. Wilder originally wrote it in 1939, as The Merchant of Yonkers, but its Broadway run was brief. Then in the early 1950s, Stratford’s inaugural artistic director, Tyrone Guthrie, persuaded Wilder to rewrite it. The result, retitled The Matchmaker, premièred at the Edinburgh Festival in 1953 and went on to become a hit both in the West End and on Broadway, where it earned Guthrie a Tony Award for Best Director.

 

“The prompt script of Tyrone Guthrie’s legendary 1953 production of The Matchmaker was a principal source of inspiration for me,” says director Chris Abraham. “It gave me a window into Guthrie’s inventive proscenium mise-en-scène, as well as into the restless perfectionism of the director and writer. Our production on the Festival’s thrust stage is in many ways deeply indebted to and influenced by the genius of its first director.”

 

The production’s artistic team includes Designer Santo Loquasto, Lighting Designer Michael Walton, Sound Designer Thomas Ryder Payne, Choreographer Jane Johanson, Dramaturge Robert Blacker, Dramaturge Jacob Gallagher-Ross and Stunt Coordinator Daniel Levinson.

 

Production support for The Matchmaker is generously provided by Jennifer Surridge in memory of Robertson Davies.

 

 

 

Cast (in alphabetical order)

Understudy………………………………………………………………….. Alden Adair

Ensemble…………………………………………………………………….. Simon Bracken

Ambrose Kemper, suitor to Ermengarde……………………………. Skye Brandon

Ensemble…………………………………………………………………….. Ian D. Clark

Irene Molloy…………………………………………………………………. Laura Condlln

August…………………………………………………………………………. Victor Dolhai

Ensemble…………………………………………………………………….. Leah Doz

Barnaby Tucker……………………………………………………………… Josh Epstein

Understudy………………………………………………………………….. Barb Fulton

Understudy………………………………………………………………….. Andrew Gillies

Ensemble…………………………………………………………………….. Carmen Grant

Understudy………………………………………………………………….. Brad Hodder

Ensemble…………………………………………………………………….. Ruby Joy

Gypsy Musician……………………………………………………………… Robert King

Horace Vandergelder……………………………………………………… Tom McCamus

Understudy………………………………………………………………….. Lorena Mackenzie

Dolly Gallagher Levi………………………………………………………… Seana McKenna

Miss Flora Van Huysen……………………………………………………. Nora McLellan

Gertrude, Cook……………………………………………………………… Chick Reid

Ermengarde………………………………………………………………….. Cara Ricketts

Minnie Fay……………………………………………………………………. Andrea Runge

Cornelius Hackl……………………………………………………………… Mike Shara

Ensemble…………………………………………………………………….. Brian Tree

Joe Scanlon, Rudolph, Cabman…………………………………………. John Vickery

Malachi Stack………………………………………………………………… Geraint Wyn Davies

 

Artistic team

Director……………………………………………………………………….. Chris Abraham

Designer………………………………………………………………………. Santo Loquasto

Lighting Designer…………………………………………………………… Michael Walton

Sound Designer…………………………………………………………….. Thomas Ryder Payne

Choreographer……………………………………………………………… Jane Johanson

Dramaturge………………………………………………………………….. Robert Blacker

Dramaturge………………………………………………………………….. Jacob Gallagher-Ross

Stunt Coordinator………………………………………………………….. Daniel Levinson

Assistant Director…………………………………………………………… Andrea Donaldson

Assistant Set Designer…………………………………………………….. Devon Bhim

Assistant Costume Designer…………………………………………….. Alix Dolgoy

Assistant Lighting Designer………………………………………………. Sean Poole

Assistant Sound Designer………………………………………………… Verne Good

Stage Manager……………………………………………………………… Kim Lott

Assistant Stage Manager…………………………………………………. Bona Duncan

Assistant Stage Manager ………………………………………………… Bruno Gonsalves

Apprentice Stage Manager………………………………………………. Stephanie Meine

Production Assistant………………………………………………………. Kelsey Rae

Production Stage Manager………………………………………………. Margaret Palmer

Technical Director………………………………………………………….. Jeff Scollon

 

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1 comment

  1. las artes says:

    Thornton Wilder: Collected Plays Excellent edition of the works of one of America’s greatest writers and dramatists. Readable type, good paper, scholarly notes & introductory material.

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