Humor and Humanity in The Matchmaker: a behind the scenes look

June 19, 2015

 

Rehearsals have started for this witty classic by Thornton Wilder and the cast has a few words to pitch in, too!

Smiles and laughter abound during rehearsals for The Matchmaker, as longtime Girl Friday collaborators and new faces work together in bringing the script to life. It isn't surprising that mirth is plentiful, not when the masterful hand of Wilder is in play.

 

From the first all-cast reading a few weeks ago, Director Craig Johnson has focused on the multifaceted layers of comedy that Wilder crafts and how it illuminates the human condition in The Matchmaker. “This play is really four kinds of comedy—a Romantic Comedy, a Farce, a Language Comedy, and a Social Satire.” Yet, as Johnson went on to explain, this is also a play of strong dualities and opposing forces, with surprisingly modern outlooks on money, class, love, and life. A perfect blend of depth and mirth, The Matchmaker speaks to the heart of all of us.

 

The humor and resonance of the script is certainly felt and shared by the cast. Girl Friday recently asked several of them some brief questions about their characters and the adventures of a life in the theater.  

 

 

Karen Wiese-Thompson (playing Dolly Levi)

 

Describe your Matchmaker character in one sentence. 

If Queen Victoria and Rhoda Morgenstern had a baby, she'd be Dolly Gallagher Levi.

 

What is the favorite line your character says?

“If you accept human beings and are willing to live among them you acknowledge that every man has a right to his own mistakes.”  

 

What is your favorite line that another character says?

“No, no - nurse one vice in your bosom. Give it the attention it deserves and let your virtues spring up modestly around it. “ (Malachi Stack)

 

What was the first show you ever did?

I played Sherriff Horace Wiffletree in "Badlands Ballyhoo" - yes, it was the MALE lead

 

Describe a favorite theatrical/onstage adventure or misdaventure/mishap?

I was doing a production of Dracula when, unbeknownst to me, a prop bat fell from it's wire and onto the stage. A quick thinking young actor shoved it under the couch during the blackout but failed to inform me of the mishap. During the following scene, I somehow caught the wire on my costume and proceeded to perform with a small bat now following me around the stage - with it's eyes still lit up! Mortifying!

 

 

Dan Hopman (playing Cornelius Hackl)

 

Describe your Matchmaker character in one sentence.

Idealist, adventure seeker, hopeless romantic, clerk.

 

What is the favorite line your character says?

"Barnaby, you don't know anything at all. You might as well know right now that everybody except us goes through life kissing right and left all the time."

 

What is your favorite line that another character says?

"And don't forget to put the lid on the sheep dip!" (Horace Vandergelder)

 

What was the first show you ever did?

Guys and Dolls

 

 

Sam Landman (playing Malachi Stack)

 

Describe your Matchmaker character in one sentence.

Malachi Stack pretty much lives for one person: Malachi Stack. Although he's good at making people think that he's doing it for them.

 

What is the favorite line your character says?

"I want to keep my mind free to do the credit to whisky that it deserves."

 

What is your favorite line that another character says?

"My Old Clementine? She'd give her right feet for me." (Cabman)

 

What was the first show you ever did?

I played Dennis the Menace in a 3rd grade production.

 

Describe a favorite theatrical/onstage adventure or misdaventure/mishap?

When we took a touring production of "The Snow Girl" through Florida, most of the cast had eaten bad oysters the night before. At the moment when the Snow Girl comes to life, the woman playing my wife ran into the wings to throw up. Most of the improvised stuff that came out of my mouth were along the lines of, "Marusha, I wish you were here to see this!" or "No, little Snow Girl, your mother isn't here, but I'm sure she'll be a long ANY minute now."

 

 

David Beukema (playing Joe Scanlon, Rudolph and the Cabman)

 

Describe your Matchmaker character in one sentence.

*Three* characters: a peevish barber, a supercilious waiter, and a confused cabman!

 

What is your favorite line that your character says?

"People that's et onions is bad judges of who's et onions and who ain't!"

 

What is your favorite line that another character says?

"Money - pardon my expression - is like manure: it's not worth a thing unless it's spread around encouraging young things to grow." – (Dolly Levi)

 

What was the first show that you ever did?

The first show I ever did was Jack Frost and the Scarecrow in third grade. I played Jack Frost: a title role right out of the gate!

 

 

Describe a favorite theatrical/onstage adventure or misadventure/mishap?

When I played Koko in The Mikado in college, I got lost in the lyrics to my first big number "As Some Day It Might Happen", so I just started scatting until I got back on track. Few people can say they ever scatted to Gilbert & Sullivan!

 

 

Vincent Hamman (playing Barnaby Tucker)

 

Describe your Matchmaker character in one sentence.

Barnaby always has the best of intentions but goes about things in a way that leaves everyone else scratching their heads.

 

What is the favorite line your character says?

“Kiss a girl? Cornelius, you can't do that. You don't know any girls.”

 

What is your favorite line that another character says?

“No, dear, you won't catch cold. I'll slap you all over.” (Flora Van Huysen)

 

What was the first show you ever did?

I was the Mysterious Man in Into the Woods my freshman year of high school.

 

Describe a favorite theatrical/onstage adventure or misdaventure/mishap?

First entrance of the first preview performance of my first professional show out of college (Arsenic and Old Lace at the Commonweal Theatre) and I took a spill off the stage. Fortunately it only a foot drop, so I managed to bounce right back up, but I'll never forget it!

 

 

Dana Lee Thompson (playing Gertrude, August and Cook)

 

Describe your Matchmaker character in one sentence.

I am a housekeeper, a waiter, a gypsy, and a cook; I have multiple personalities.

 

What is your favorite line that your character says?

“I'll tell Miss Van Huysen who you think you are, she won't like it.”

 

What is your favorite line that another character says?

“Money, money, money-it's like the sun we walk under: it can kill and it can cure.” (Dolly Levi)

 

What was the first show you ever did?

Africa's Daughters. It was my first professional show at Theatre for Young America in Kansas City, Missouri. I was a senior in high school.

 

Describe a favorite theatrical/onstage adventure or misdaventure/mishap?

Being on stage is always an adventure. On time my pants split open partially exposing my underwear, which would not have been the worst thing except it was during a children's show and I never left the stage. Let's just say the blocking for the show that day changed A LOT!

 

 

Lindsay Marcy (playing Irene Molloy)

 

Describe your Matchmaker character in one sentence.

"Everyone's favorite bulldozer" (actually a quote from director Craig Johnson during rehearsal)

 

What is your favorite line that your character says?

"You don't know how helpless a woman in business is."

 

What is your favorite line that another character says?

"...we all hope that in your lives you have just the right amount of sitting quietly at home, and just the right amount of ...adventure." (Barnaby Tucker)​

 

What was the first show you ever did?

Winnie the Pooh (Pooh Bear) 5th grade

 

Describe a favorite theatrical/onstage adventure or misdaventure/mishap?

Getting to perform a few times on A Prairie Home Companion... Such a thrill!

 

 

 

Kirby Bennett (playing Flora Van Huysen)

 

Describe your Matchmaker character in one sentence.

A hopeless romantic with a questionable past.

 

What is your favorite line that your character says?

“The important thing is that you are you.”

 

What is your favorite line that another character says?

“Well, have a glass first and die happy.” (Irene Molloy)

 

What was the first show you ever did?

“Picnic on the Battlefield” as a freshman in high school.

 

Describe a favorite theatrical/onstage adventure or misdaventure/mishap?

I have been in two wonderful productions of “Noises Off!” and slid down a fireman’s pole in each. Bruises and fear of heights both conquered!

You too can enjoy the full humor and humanity of The Matchmaker, which opens on the Andy Boss Thrust Stage at Park Square July 10th and runs through July 26th.  Tickets are on sale now and you can reserve them by visiting http://parksquaretheatre.org/box-office/shows/the-matchmaker/ or by calling 651.291.7005 for the Park Square Box Office. 

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