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 A new year will bring a classic old play to the
stage at Olean Theatre Workshop
this Valentine's Day weekend. 
Thornton Wilder's "The Matchmaker" will add some levity to the cold of winter, running from Thursday, Feb. 13, through Sunday, Feb. 16, at the theatre on Washington Street. 

Written in 1954, "The Matchmaker" centers around Dolly Levi, a widow who brokers marriages and other transactions. The play is the basis on which the famous and beloved musical "Hello, Dolly" was created 10 years later, with a movie to follow in 1969. 

The cast for OTW's production includes: Sarita Schwindler as Mrs. Levi; Jake Riggs as Horace Vandergelder; Darrell Klute as Cornelius; Quinn Forrest as Barnaby Tucker; Paul Hessney as Malachi Stack; Josh Terhune as Ambrose Kemper; David Merwine as Joe Scanlon; Sadie Edwards as Mrs. Malloy; Mia Pavone as Minnie Fay; Lydia Brant as Ermengarde; Sandy Mulryan as Gertrude; Sam Ursoy as Cabman; Angela Emley as Miss Flora van Huysen; and Sarah Clark as Miss van Huysen’s cook. The show will also feature a piano accompanist by Holden Bernstein. 

Directed by Alan Bernstein and produced by Kelly Welch Vacarro, "The Matchmaker" will be presented at 7:30pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 13, 14 and 15; and 2pm Sunday, Feb. 16. 
For individual tickets, visit the Website
Buy Tickets Now
   DID YOU KNOW THAT.......???
THE MATCHMAKER by Thornton Wilder has had a few versions? The plot has several sources that Wilder drew from -  John Oxenford's 1835 one-act farce A Day Well Spent had been extended into a full-length play entitled Einen Jux will er sich machen by Austrian playwright Johann Nestroy in 1842. In 1938, Wilder wrote THE MERCHANT OF YONKERS.  In 1954, Wilder adapted that play into THE MATCHMAKER which greatly increased the previous small role of Dolly Gallagher Levi into a character. Wilder rewrote the script with the encouragement of Ruth Gordon, who played Dolly in the production. Some may remember Ruth in ROSEMARY'S BABY and HAROLD AND MAUDE.

In the 1958 movie, Shirley Booth played Dolly. Later in her career, Shirley was the beloved Hazel of the TV series of the same name. Both women who liked to arrange things!

Many of the Jerry Herman lyrics for his musical HELLO DOLLY were taken from the script of THE MATCHMAKER. He used "Put on your Sunday clothes," and "wearing ribbons down our backs," to name a few. Carol Channing used the musical HELLO DOLLY as almost a signature piece in the latter part of her career.

The plot line is an enjoyable one, regardless if play or musical. For pure fun, please plan on attending a performance of the play.
Don't Worry if you have forgotten to get something for St. Valentine Day.....
We have you covered!!

OTW Raffle for The Matchmaker
One Ticket for $2/Three Tickets for $5 only. 

Winner will be drawn after the Sunday show.  
You don't need to be present to Win!
Question and Answer time with the Director Al Bernstein…..
Question: Describe your initial involvement in theatre. Was it high school, earlier? Many of us remember your mother Mary's great skill on stage, so was she an influence?
I started in high school Drama Club in Portville. I was a light guy, and only got on stage in my senior year. I liked lights better. Only two students were ever allowed to touch them in any given year. I was one of them from 8th thru 11th grade. Then I got on stage. I learned tons. We were permitted to climb ladders, aim/change lights, and run the big light boards. Anyone could get on stage. Not many ever dared touch the lights.
About 17 years ago or so, my mom was directing and starring in a show at the Workshop. About 10 days before the show, someone quit. Mom told me I was doing it. Thank heavens I was on stage with Bob and DB Busan, my Mom, and Glen Chambers. Those people were simply the best and covered well for me.  My part was an emotional one, and I loved the immediate impact of those emotions when done on our intimate stage. I was hooked.

Question: Do you prefer directing to acting? Like equally? Explain please.
I do enjoy directing, but I definitely prefer acting. Both pose challenges. I just enjoy the acting better because it allows me to really explore a character, and I feel that character acting is one of my strengths.
Question: Do you have a favorite play? Musical?
I have many favorite shows, but if I had to pick one, I'd say "Guys and Dolls."  The movie was a big deal in my house when I was growing up. I have know most of the music most of my life. And I got a chance to play Big Jule on stage. It was one of my favorite parts.
Question: Is there a part in a play that you are simply aching to portray?
I've had a chance to do some of my bucket list parts: Brady in "Inherit the Wind," Bob Ewell in "To Kill a Mockingbird" (my hardest part EVER), John Proctor in "The Crucible." I try not to aspire for a particular part. I have learned that you almost never get it.
Question: When you direct a play, do you have an initial vision for the roles? Do you let the actors develop the parts or do you play an active part in this?
This question defines a very fine line. I start with an idea, but then try to let it evolve naturally. I definitely try to give the actors much leeway to move and grow his or her character. This is what I prefer as an actor. I often try to nudge people in a certain direction, but then ask them to use their skills to figure it out.
Question: I know they are very personal, but please give your reasons for your huge commitment to organ donation? How can people go about doing this?
Both of my parents were the recipients of organ donation. My motto is, "People should not take their organs to heaven. Heaven knows we need them here."  
My father was born in 1928, and he only had one kidney from the time that he was 14-years-old. He did get a transplant in the early 1970s, and was fine for a while, but then the kidney started to fail. He needed another transplant. He drove himself from Portville to Buffalo three times a week for dialysis. He had to because my mother was a school teacher and had me and my brother at home. We were both less than 10-years-old.
Now the hard part of this story. I'll never forget Thanksgiving Day 1973. I was 8. Mom and Dad had the traditional 20-some people in the house.  Dad got a call from Buffalo General. They had a kidney for him, and he needed to get to the Hospital ASAP. Dad jumped in the car and was taken to the hospital.  He got there a little more than two hours after the first call to us. By the time he got to the hospital, the widow of the donor had changed her mind about the donation. Dad would not be getting a kidney.Then or ever. He died seven months later, right before my ninth birthday. My brother was 10. My Dad was only 45.
My mother learned that she needed a liver transplant when she was in her mid- to late-60s. There was a pretty hard and fast rule that you would not receive a liver transplant after you reached the age of 70. Mom hit 70, and her health was very bad. The doctors at the Cleveland Clinic said they had a new program that might be a fit for Mom. The short version here is that she received a whole liver donated by someone who had passed. Mom's life was given a jump start. She got a few more good years of life from this donation.  It was incredible.
I am now the Cattaraugus County Clerk, and as such am in charge of three DMV offices. The DMV always encourages people to check the box for organ donation. You can do it anytime you come into one of our offices. People can also go to and sign up there. is another place to register as an organ donor.  We have a month each spring when we try even harder to encourage people to sign up to be organ donors.
Right now 58.8 percent of the licensed drivers in Cattaraugus County are organ donors on their Driver's License. This ranks us at eighth place in the state for donors by percentage. My goal is to move that number up. We can do it together. The first goal is 60 percent. There are only four counties that are above 60 percent. We only need 725 out of the 60,000 or so drivers in our county to become organ donors and we will hit this first goal. 
If you are reading this and are not a donor, please go sign up today. If you are a donor and have friends and family that are not, please discuss with them the vital need for donated organs. You might make a huge difference in the life of an 8-year-old boy and his family.
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