Asolo Repertory Theatre to Present THE MATCHMAKER in January

Asolo Repertory Theatre kicks off its 2014-15 rep season with three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thornton Wilder's uproarious romantic comedy, THE MATCHMAKER. Directed by Peter Amster, the play opens Friday, January 9, 2015 at 8pm, with previews Tuesday, January 6 at 7:30 pm, Wednesday, January 7 and Thursday, January 8 at 8pm. THE MATCHMAKER, which was adapted into the Tony Award-winning musical Hello, Dolly!, runs in rotating rep through Saturday, April 11, 2015.

Set at the dawn of the 20th century, THE MATCHMAKER chronicles an eccentric band of characters as they frolic through New York City in search of love, fortune and adventure. When the brusque and affluent merchant Horace Vandergelder wants a wife, he seeks the assistance of sprightly matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi. He intends to marry Irene Molloy, a widowed, disenchanted milliner, but Dolly has already secretly concocted a plan to marry him herself. Vandergelder's madcap employees Cornelius and the young Barnaby are never far from their boss' quest for a wife, leaving a sticky trail of shenanigans along the way.

"Some might ask why Asolo Rep would not just do Hello, Dolly!" said Amster. "Well, it turns out that the play offers pleasures and insights into the American character that the musical does not. Dolly Gallagher Levi, as conceived by Wilder, is every bit as deliciously sly, witty, and entertaining as Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart's Dolly, but she's more than that. She's a shrewd philosopher, with many truths to share with us about character and economics. Things don't always go her way."

Peggy Roeder, who played Madge, Sonia, and Ma Joad in last season's Philadelphia, Here I Come!, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, and The Grapes of Wrath, stars as the magnetic Dolly Levi. Steve Hendrickson, who played Andrew McNair in Asolo Rep's 2012-13 season production of 1776, plays Horace Vandergelder.

Celebrated American author Thornton Wilder penned two Pulitzer Prize winning plays: Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth, and his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey received the Pulitzer Prize in 1928. Wilder also wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's 1943 film Shadow of a Doubt.

Set designer Russell Metheny, who has designed the sets for Asolo Rep's productions of Philadelphia, Here I Come!, 1776, My Fair Lady and Twelve Angry Men, brings Wilder's world of turn of the century Yonkers and New York City to life with an imaginative set that reflects the upbeat, highly active feel of the play.

"It was important to design the sets for THE MATCHMAKER to allow a continuous fluid non-stop action," said Metheny. "The first two acts are designed to move from one to the other without stopping, in view, to keep the action, energy of the performances and story flowing. As the first act ends the set rides upstage away from the audience's view as the Act 2 set rides on from both sides of the stage. In this transition we travel as if we took the train from Yonkers to Manhattan, accented by a vista of a bustling elevated train station."

Infused with joyful original music composed by Gregg Coffin, THE MATCHMAKER merrily continues the third season of Asolo Rep's American Character Project, a five-year celebration of this country's diverse culture and people. This season, a common thread of money, power and sex weaves through each production. The central theme of Wilder's longest-running Broadway play is to take chances and embrace love and adventure, which remains a core American value.

"Filled with wit and wisdom, THE MATCHMAKER is a brilliant comedy that evokes a 19th century version of," said Michael Donald Edwards, producing artistic director of Asolo Rep. "At the same time it captures the heart of the human dilemma we understand so well in America: how to achieve financial security while at the same time experiencing the unbridled joy of living in the moment."

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