Thornton Wilder's 1955 comedy reveals the exploits of matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi, a widow who brokers marriages and other transactions in Yonkers, New York at the turn of the 20th century.
Hired by local merchant Horace Vandergelder to find a wife, Dolly sets her sights on the eligible widower herself. Slapstick ensues -- mistaken identities, secret rendezvous, separated lovers and even a trip to night court -- but in the end everyone finds themselves paired with a perfect match.
When The Matchmaker premiered, Thornton Wilder was considered to be one of America's most important authors, with two Pulitzer Prizes to his credit. Critics had to adjust their expectations for the play, which seemed to adhere to melodramatic conventions that contrasted starkly with Wilder's other work. Wilder himself suggested that the play was a way to shake off "the nonsense of the nineteenth-century staging" by making fun of it. But whether taken at face value or viewed as a commentary on theatrical conventions, The Matchmaker has proven to have staying power onstage.
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