CCM Presents The Matchmaker

Photography by Mark Lyons

CCM launches its 2010-11 Mainstage Series with Thornton Wilder’s classic comedy The Matchmaker. Sure to induce a chuckle with its timeless humor and slapstick flair, the fun-loving show runs from Oct. 27 (preview) through Oct. 31 in CCM’s Patricia Corbett Theater on the University of Cincinnati campus.

While many people know and love Jerry Herman’s Tony Award-winning musical Hello, Dolly!, the story is actually based on Thornton Wilder’s lesser-known play, The Matchmaker. Set at the turn of the century, the farce features the exuberant Dolly Levi as a matchmaker attempting to help bad-tempered “half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder find a new wife. However, Horace does not know that the woman she intends for him to marry is, in fact, herself. To top it off, Dolly is also helping Horace’s niece to elope with a man of whom he does not approve, meddling in the lives of Horace’s stock boys and turning heads wherever she goes. Antics abound as Dolly pairs unlikely couples while trying to secure her own match.

Given that Dolly’s story is familiar to many people, director Richard E. Hess wanted to play with the conventions of the production. “I started falling in love with mismatched couples, so that the matchmaker was bringing together people that you might not see.” Of particular interest to Hess was Dolly’s tendency of mismatching the very poor to the very wealthy. “The Matchmaker talks a lot about money,” says Hess. “Right now in our world, we have the very rich with a lot of power, and the distance between the middle class and these people is huge. In the play, these people talk about this a lot.” Hess continues, “Dolly has a saying that goes, ‘money is like manure; it’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around encouraging young things to grow.’ I love that.”

Tickets: $11 (preview only); $27-$29, $17-$19 students. $11 student rush tickets available for Sat. matinee beginning at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 30. Contact the CCM Box Office at 513-556-4183 or to place your order.

Cast and Staff Bios:

The Company

Taylor Cloyes, Mrs. Levi
Senior from Houston, Texas
At CCM: Helen Potts in Picnic, Eos/Cathy in Transmigration: Flushed, Eva Temple in Orpheus Descending, Death in Blood Wedding, Gabrielle in Transmigration: (fun)eral. Elsewhere: Willow/Rose in Sophie’s Dream at Cincinnati Fringe Festival, Ashley in Somewhere Never Traveled (film), The Girl in The Silent Song (film).

Jack Conroy, Ambrose Kemper
Sophomore fom Burlington, Vermont
At CCM: Chorus/Newsboy in Bury the Dead. Elsewhere: Sebastian in Twelfth Night at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (London), Wisehammer/Captain Philip in Our Country’s Good at Walnut Hill School for Performing Arts (Boston), Frog in A Year With Frog and Toad at St. Michael’s Playhouse (Burlington, Vt.).

Kristopher Dean, Cornelius Hackl
Junior from Lansdale, Pennsylvania
At CCM: First Soldier in Bury the Dead, Grandpa in You Can’t Take It With You. Elsewhere: Longaville in Love’s Labour’s Lost at Seasongood Pavillion (Cincinnati), Mickey in Damn Yankees! and Gross Indecency in The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde at Cortland Repertory Theater (Cortland, N.Y.).

Mack Harden, Horace Vandergelder
Junior from Denver, Colorado
At CCM: Soldier in Bury the Dead, Creator/Actor in Happiness Is A Supple Puppy, Pee Wee in Orpheus Descending. Elsewhere: Don Armado in Love’s Labour’s Lost and Adam in As You Like It at Cincinnati Outdoor Classics, Gravedigger in Hamlet and Boy in Much Ado About Nothing at Denver Center Theater Company.

Ellie Jameson, Mrs. Molloy
Sophomore from Olympia, Washington
At CCM: Christine Shoenwalder in Picnic, Erde in Transmigration: Flushed. Elsewhere: Olive in Sophie’s Dream at Cincinnati Fringe Festival, Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible and Karen Andre in The Night of January 16th at Pacific Arts Center (Olympia, Wash.).

Will Kiley, Barnaby Tucker
Sophomore from Cincinnati, Ohio
At CCM: Doctor in Bury the Dead, Change Corp in Transmigration. Elsewhere: Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Jerry in Betrayal, Phaeton/Midas/Erisychthon in Metamorphosis and Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night at Sycamore High School (Cincinnati), The Devil in The Devil and Billy Markham at National High School Institute (Chicago).

Kevin Macku, Joe Scanlon, Gypsy 2
Senior from Cincinnati, Ohio
At CCM: Pvt. Levy in Bury the Dead, Ensemble in 47 Bottles in a Lake, Mac in You Can’t Take It With You, Woodcutter in Blood Wedding, The Writer in Barren, Georg/Gaston in Spring Awakening. Elsewhere: Ensemble in It Might Be Okay at Cincinnati Fringe Festival.

Kevin Malarkey, Rudolf
Senior from Yellow Springs, Ohio
At CCM: Tom Driscoll in Bury the Dead, Val Xavier in Orpheus Descending, Leonardo in Blood Wedding, Chad in Side Effects, Fetch in Spring Awakening. Elsewhere: Algernon in The Importance of Being Earnest at The Miami Valley Theatre (Kettering, Oh.).

Parker Searfoss, August
Junior from Dallas, Texas
At CCM: Alan Seymore in Picnic, Paul Sycamore in You Can’t Take It With You, Himself in Happiness Is A Supple Puppy, Old Man in EarWorm.

Hope Shangle, Miss Flora Van Huysen
Junior from Grand Rapids, Michigan
At CCM: Martha Webster in Bury the Dead, Penny Sycamore in You Can’t Take It With You, Neighbor in Blood Wedding.

Stephen Shore, A Cabman
Senior from Cincinnati, Ohio
At CCM: Hal in Picnic, Dick in Tap Dancing on Jello, Jim in You Can’t Take It With You, Doc in Crimes of the Heart, Myself in Still Standing. Elsewhere: Jim/Save-Zilla in Modern Family (ABC TV).

Alec Silberblatt, Malachi Stack
Junior from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
At CCM: Howard in Picnic, Several characters in Happiness Is a Supple Puppy, Dog Hamma in Orpheus Descending. Elsewhere: Jason in Jason in Rabbit Hole at Pittsburgh Public Theater, Costard n Love’s Labour’s Lost at Hartford TheaterWorks (Conn.), Creator/performer in It Might Be Okay at Cincinnati Outdoor Classics.

Mikayla Stanley, Gertrude, Her Cook
Senior from Tampa, Florida
At CCM: Joan in Bury the Dead, Meg in Crimes of the Heart, Cast in 47 Bottles in a Lake, Cast in EarWorm. Elsewhere: Cast in Walked In My Shoes, Body Language II and It Might Be Okay at Cincinnati Fringe Festival.

Mariel Tompkins, Minnie Fay
Sophomore from Long Island, New York
At CCM: Stenographer/Scientist/Chorus in Bury the Dead. Elsewhere: Melissa in State Fair, Cleaning Lady in Working and Lucy in You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown at Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts (Wheatley Heights, N.Y.).

Clare M. Ward, Ermengarde
Junior from Louisville, Kentucky
At CCM: Madge in Picnic, Ensemble in 47 Bottles in a Lake. Elsewhere: The Princess in Love’s Labours Lost and Mrs. Popov in The Boor at Cincinnati Outdoor Classics, Nicole in A Stop in Paris at Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative, Zoe in The Armchair Traveler and Marsha in Military 4Play at the Hangar Theater (Ithaca, N.Y.).

Ian Weber, Gypsy 1
Sophomore from Crestwood, Kentucky
At CCM: Charley in Bury the Dead. Elsewhere: Luka in The Boor at Cincinnati Outdoor Classics, Dickon in The Secret Garden at Kentucky Center for the Arts (Louisville, Ky.), Alan Felix in Play It Again Sam at Little Colonel Playhouse (PeeWee Valley, Ky.).

The Staff

Amanda Rae Janke, Costume Designer
A third-year graduate student from South Lyon, Michigan, Amanda Rae Janke was costume designer for CCM’s production of Picnic, and was assistant costume designer for Falstaff and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. She was also costume shop manager for the Hope Summer Repertory Theatre (Holland, Mich.).

Weston G. Wetzel, Lighting Designer
A second year lighting design graduate from central Texas, Weston G. Wetzel has recently designed The Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center’s production of Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Covington, Ky.). His CCM designs include The Human Comedy, CCM Dance Division’s Winter Dance Showcase 2010 and Fall Dance Concert 2009. Wetzel’s Stephen F. Austin State University undergraduate lighting designs include Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Labyrinth, The Gas Heart, The Bald Soprano, The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow, The Piano Lesson and more. Weston has also designed for Southern Sound Systems in Houston, TX, the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, NY, SFA Dance Repertory Company and The After Dinner Theatre Company in Nacogdoches, TX.

Anna M. Eilers, Wig & Make-up Designer
A senior from Cincinnati, Ohio, Anna M. Eilers was wig & make-up designer for CCM’s productions of Die Fledermaus, Anything Goes, Falstaff, Two Gentlemen of Verona and Urinetown.

Valerie Lawrence, Sound Designer
A third-year graduate student from Peoria, Illinois, Valerie Lawrence was sound designer for CCM’s productions of Picnic and Orpheus Descending, as well as assistant sound designer for Anything Goes and Bat Boy. She was scenic painter for the summer 2010 season of the Chautauqua Theater Company (Chautauqua, N.Y.) and assistant sound designer for the summer 2009 season of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival (Normal, Ill.).

Elena Russo, Stage Manager
A second-year graduate student, Elena Russo was stage manager for CCM’s productions of Bury the Dead, The Rape of Lucretia and the 2009 Fall Dance performances. She was also head of technical theatre at the French Woods Festival of Performing Arts (Hancock, N.Y.) and assistant stage manager of Neil Berg’s 100 Years of Broadway National Tour. In addition, Elena was a technician for Norwegian Cruise Lines – Hawaii and worked on several productions with Louisiana State University, Swine Palace Productions and the Baton Rouge River Center (Baton Rouge, La.). 

Richard E. Hess, director
Richard Hess has been Chair of CCM Drama for the past 16 years. Recent directing credits at CCM include Picnic, You Can’t Take It With You, Spring Awakening, Bat Boy: The Musical, Anon(ymous), Big Love, Brigadoon (Cincinnati Entertainment Award (CEA) Outstanding Musical) and Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches (CEA for Best Ensemble Acting). He made his New York debut at the Laurie Beechman Theatre on 42nd Street directing AN EVENING OF (Mostly) TRUE SONGS by Adam Wagner. Favorite directing credits at the Human Race Theatre Co., where he has been a resident artist since 1996, include Doubt, I Am My Own Wife and A Delicate Balance. Other credits include the Los Angeles staging of the one-woman show Besame Mucho, O.K. That’s Enough, and the smash hits The Pages of My Diary I’d Rather Not Read and The Catholic Girl’s Guide to Losing Your Virginity, both of which enjoyed sold out runs at the Hudson Theatre.

For five years Hess was the artistic director of “Hot Summer Nights” in Cincinnati, where he directed Violet (with Ashley Brown), Hello, Dolly! (with Pam Myers) and the premiere of We Tell The Story: The Songs of Ahrens and Flaherty. He had the privilege of working and studying with internationally acclaimed director Anne Bogart and members of the Saratoga International Theatre Institute (SITI Co.) in New York and Los Angeles. He has worked with the Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, KNOW Theatre, the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the Chautauqua Institution, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops and Cincinnati Opera Education. He is proud of fostering the new work of playwrights, and has directed first productions of Richard Oberacker and Rob Taylor’s Don’t Make Me Pull This Show Over: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Parenting, Mark Halpin’s The Kid in the Dark, Adam Wagner’s Don’t Look Down and Tom Korbee’s Will It Ever Stop Raining?

He made his debut as a playwright/creator in the Cincinnati Fringe Festival 2006 with (UN)Natural Disaster, created with 13 actors, performed in an abandoned building in Over-the-Rhine and named the Producer’s Pick of the Fringe. Hess was named Ernest Glover Outstanding Teacher at UC in 1999. He is an associate member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.


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