The playwright Thornton Wilder has a local Hamden connection that does our state proud.  Having won three Pulitzer Prizes, in 1927 for his novel about the fate of five travelers on a bridge that collapses in Peru, “The Bridge of San Luis Rey,” in 1938 for the bittersweet story of the Gibbs and Webb families in Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, “Our Town,” and in 1942 for the play that examines five thousand years of the human condition through the Antrobus family, “The Skin of Our Teeth,” Wilder’s place in American literature is assured.  He is the only American author to win a Pulitzer Prize for both fiction and drama.

    Wilder considered himself a teacher first and a writer second.  His close friends numbered Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein.  In his varied career, he wrote the libretti for two operas, a screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock and played the Stage Manager for two weeks in “Our Town” on Broadway.  He reworked an earlier play “The Merchant of Yonkers” into “The Matchmaker,” which would later be the basis for “Hello, Dolly!” and earn him financial success for the rest of his life.

    You have the unique opportunity to enjoy “The Matchmaker” this summer courtesy of The Elm Shakespeare Company outdoors evenings at 7:30 p.m. in Edgerton Park on the Hamden/New Haven border, off Whitney Avenue.  It will run August 22, 24, 26, 28 and 30 in repertory with William Shakespeare’s dramatic epic “Hamlet” which plays, weather permitting, August 21, 23, 27, 29 and 31.

    In the 1880’s in Yonkers, New York, Horace Vandergelder (Michael Peter Smith) enjoys the status of being half a millionaire, a penny pinching wealthy widower who owns a feed and grain store.  He has decided to remarry and has hired Dolly Levi, played by a sparkling Lisa Bostnar, a multi-talented organizer and master manipulator, to find him a suitable bride and to help prevent his niece Ermengarde (Vanessa Soto) from marrying a penniless artist Ambrose (Ean Kessler).

    The enterprising Mrs. Levi, a widow herself, has other plans.  She wants to marry Horace herself, help Ambrose and Ermengarde wed, and, in the process, encourage Horace’s clerks Cornelius (Raphael Massie) and Barnaby (Ian McQuillan-Grace) to have an exciting adventure in New York City with a hat shop owner (Tamara Hickey) and her assistant (Samantha Maslaw).

    The daring manipulator and charming schemer, Mrs. Levi, accomplishes all that she has set out to do, with a little assistance from Miss Flora Van Huysen (Allyn Burrows, who also plays the lead in “Hamlet”).  Artistic Director for both ambitious productions is James
Andreassi.  Suggested donations are adults $10 and students $5/

    A Gala and Auction to benefit The Elm Shakespeare Company will be held on Thursday, August 28 at 5 p.m., at Edgerton Park, the Cliff Street entrance.  Call 203-393-1436 or online at www.elmshakespeare.org or www.elmshakespeare.cmarket.com. ; An online auction is already in progress for such fantastic items as an 8 x 12 Persian rug, four box tickets for Yankee Stadium, a hot air balloon ride for two, five nights in Cancun and a week in Spain, among others.

    Let the Elm Shakespeare Company entertain you and your whole family in Edgerton Park under the stars before the summer ends.

This review appeared in the Middletown Press on August 21.

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