By Brandon Dumsky

There's a light-hearted farce showing in Independence just before Valentine's Day.

William Chrisman High School's theater department is performing "The Matchmaker" today, Friday and Saturday. All performances begin at 7 p.m. in the high school's auditorium. This play by Thornton Wilder is the basis for the Tony Award-winning musical and film starring Barbra Streisand, "Hello, Dolly!"

The period piece takes place at the turn of the 20th century where a grumpy, old man by the name of Horace Vandergelder hires the flamboyant and outspoken Dolly Levi to arrange a marriage for his niece, Ermengarde. However, the opposite happens when the parties playing Cupid fall for each other instead.

"It's classic, timeless and never been done before here," says Kim Hayes, the play's director and William Chrisman's theater instructor. "And on top of that, it costs less than going to a movie."

Hayes says both cast and crew researched their roles and worked diligently despite the short time window since their last elaborate production, "Guys and Dolls."

"It was a good time to perform this with the right people."

What particularly attracted Jesse Ewart to the role of Vandergelder was the blatant sexism that was considered the norm in the play's 1890s time period.

"It was fun behaving how they did in those days," says Jesse. "My character says a part like, 'marriage is a bribe to make a woman a housekeeper while making her think she is a householder.' "

Rest assured, though, the play's titular character, Dolly, gives Vandergelder grief by saying, "A husband is someone that needs to spread the wealth."

Above all, itís "live theater," says Hayes. "You don't know what can happen."


Tickets are $5 in advance and $6 at the door. For more information or ticket purchases, contact William Chrisman High School at 816-521-5355.


Horace Vandergelder - Jesse Ewart Ambrose Kemper - Michael Tonga Joe Scanlon - Spencer Long Gertrude - Melody Burns Cornelius Hackl - Nick Ferrell Ermengarde - Renee Kavanaugh Malachi Stack - Michael Morris Dolly Levi - Allie Weston Baraby Tucker - Aaron Upton Mr. Irene Malloy - Alexis Lorenz Minnie Fay - Alexis Snell Rudolph - Ryan Thompson Cabman - Dakota Kinslow August - Spencer Long Miss Van Huysen - Rachael Mallinson Cook - Jaleah Johnson