Photos by Paul VanDorpe
|Howard Meadows, Catherine Shook, Lindsay Vincent,|
Nicole DeSalle (foreground)
The plot revolves around Horace Vandergelder (Howard Meadows), a wealthy widower who is looking to remarry, but is disgusted by the "foolishness" he sees all around him. A friend of his deceased wife, Dolly Levi (Nicole DeSalle), is ostensibly helping him find the perfect mate, but is clearly laying a careful trap to snare him for himself. In the opening scene we are introduced to Vandergelder, his young niece Ermengarde (Shay McKeehan) and her fiance Ambrose (Brian Tanner), as well as his clerks Cornelius (Brad Quinn) and Barnaby (Jacques Motyko). When Vandergelder sets off to New York for a date, Ermengarde and Ambrose hatch a scheme to elope, and Cornelius and Barnaby plot an adventurous night on the town. The stage is set for a fun romp full of deceit and disguise, mistaken identity, close calls and sudden reversals, and, of course, love at first sight.
The acting is solid during these opening moments, but it seems to lack a sense of urgency; the characters are painted a little too broadly. The jokes don't seem to land as hard as they could, and there's a general sense of holding back. All this clears away, however, when Dolly enters the scene. She is the play's titular matchmaker, a very entertaining scoundrel, a lovable liar. Almost everyone in the play is at some point part of her great scheme. Her motives are noble; she wants to get her hands on grumpy old Vandergelder's money and "spread it around" (see above). DeSalle crafts this signature character with great care. She is refined, she has impeccable timing, and she pursues her objective patiently and playfully. She and Meadows make a great duo, responding to each other energetically as Dolly turns Vandergelder into putty in her hands.
|Jacques Motyko, Brad Quinn, Lindsay Vincent and Catherine Shook|
The men in this show are very good as well. Brad Quinn is a great straight man, providing an anchor for the endless silliness. Jacques Motyko is energetic as Barnaby, and is great at making specific scene choices. Howard Meadows has a grandiose presence that fits his character quite well. All of these actors are well-cast and well-directed, and are supported by a great supporting cast. ICCT does justice to this classic, honoring its humor and its humanity in this production.
The Matchmaker runs February 28 - March 9 at the Johnson County Fairgrounds. More information here.