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Emerson Colonial Theatre Official Blog

The Matchmaker

Posted November 14, 2023

Before there was Hello, Dolly! - Thorton Wilder's The Matchmaker began a two-week try-out engagement at the Colonial on this day in 1955.
While the general story of the play had existed before in many different forms, The Matchmaker was itself a rewrite of Wilder's 1938 play The Merchant of Yonkers (which also premiered at the Colonial!). The Matchmaker starred Ruth Gordon (who was born in Quincy, MA) as Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi, Eileen Herlie as Irene Molloy, and Loring Smith as Horace Vandergelder.
The show went on to Broadway where it played 486 performances and earned Director Tyrone Guthrie a Tony Award for Best Direction and Ruth Gordon a nomination for Best Actress in a Play, followed by a motion picture version starring Shirley Booth as Dolly
The story enjoyed yet another version in 1964 when David Merrick (who had produced the 1955 Broadway play) partnered with composer Jerry Herman to mount the hugely successful, Tony Award-winning musical Hello, Dolly! starring Carol Channing.
A film version of Hello, Dolly! was released in 1969 starring Barbra Streisand as the lead role.

Photo 1: The Matchmaker Colonial promotional flyer
Photo 2: Production photo of Ruth Gordon in 1955.
Photo 3: The Matchmaker 1955 Colonial Theatre program.
Photo 4: Production photo of Ruth Gordon with costar Alexander Davion.