Where and When
12th – 14th March 1987 @ The Allendale Centre, Wimborne
Horace Vandergelder, a wealthy merchant in nineteenth-century Yonkers, NY, has a plan. He has been a widower for long enough and now he wants to find a wife. He recruits the help of local matchmaker, Mrs. Dolly Levi, but she has plans of her own. Meanwhile, Vandergelder’s niece Ermengarde desperately wants to marry her artist lover, but Vandergelder refuses to allow it. Furthermore, his clerks have run off to New York City on a mission ‘to kiss a girl’! There they find Irene Molloy and Minnie Fay, who are looking for excitement of their own. Hilarity and confusion ensues as everyone tries to secure their love lives and marry as they choose. Despite believing himself to be in charge, Vandergelder finds himself engaged to the astute Dolly Levi herself, who is determined to share his wealth for the greater good. Thornton Wilder’s madcap farce famously became the basis for the golden-age musical Hello Dolly.
- Horace Vendergelder – Joe Brooks
- Joe Scanlon – Richard Johns
- Ambrose Kemper – Spencer Hare
- Getrude – Isabel Falconer
- Corneleus Hackl – Jim Ruegg
- Ermengarde – June Easden
- Malachi Stack – Hugh Brasnett
- Mrs Dolly Levi – Barbara Trebilco
- Barnaby Tucker – Tony Feltham
- Mrs Irene Molloy – Raymonde Grenville
- Minnie Fay – Carolyn Woodward
- Rudolph – Peter Brooks
- Cabman – Gareth Jones
- Augustina – Barbara Hurst
- A Waitress – Hayley Iznerowizz
- Gypsey Violinist – Richard Johns
- Miss Flora Van Huysen – Margaret Pope
- Miss Van Huysen’s Cook – Yvonne Goodman
- Director – Enid Davies
- Stage Manager – David Green
- ASMs – David Woodward, John Showell and John Fry
- Prompt – Pam Feltham
- Properties – Isable Falconer, Emma Davies and Shirley Ilott
- Set Design – Thelma Dryden and Muriel Brooks
- Sound – Muriel Brooks
- Lighting – Trevor Lelliot
- Costumes – Joyce Eidmans
- Front of House – Dapne Young
Thorton Wilder’s 19th Centruy American farce, The Matchmaker, is an ambitious play for an amateur company to present. New York accents, four major scene changes and a cast of 18 all have their own pitfalls. But Wimborne Drama Club took their chances well at the Allendale Centre last week and came up with a work which although not perfect, did well in terms of entertainment value.
The story centres on the rich merchant of Yonhers, Horace Vandergelder and his search for a wife, and the expolits of his wayward assistants who wait for the master to goand then promptly shut up shop and head for the high life in New York, where they get into all sorts of scrapes.
Joe Brooks made an imposing Vandergelder, and though not entirely at home with his accent, carried the part off with aplomb. The two lads, Jim Ruegg as Cornelius and Tony Feltham as young innocent Barnaby, were also well cast as the downtrodden employees. “You’re going to have a mistress,” announces Vandergelder, planning marriage, “but I’m too young Mt Vandergelder” replies the young Barnaby with excellent timing.
With a drawl reminiscent of the great Mae West, a widow, Mrs Dolly Levi, arrives on the scene to try and ensnare Vandergelder into marrying her. Barbar Trebilco’s colourful and spirited portrayal injected a good deal of life and interest. I was just waiting for her to say “Come up and see me sometime”.
Margaret Pope as the rich spinster Miss Flora Van Huysen seemed very much at home in both her accent and the part as she drew all the loves together, while her plump cook Yvonne Goodman excelled at bustling around in the confusion.
Impressive costumes and sets helped give the feel of late 19th century New York, but the scene changes were too slow and the audience were confronted with a blank cutain for too long.
There were some very memorable moments – notably when the two lads hid in milliner Irene Molloy’s shop and later when they entertained the forceful Mrs Molloy (Raymonde Grenville) an her pretty assistant Minnie Fay (carolyn Woodward) in the Harmonica Gardens Restaurant while Mt Vandergelder and Mrs Levi were dining on the other side of the partition.