The Merchant of Yonkers

The Merchant of Yonkers is a 1938 play by Thornton Wilder.

The Merchant of Yonkers
First edition 1939
Written byThornton Wilder
Date premieredDecember 28, 1938 (1938-12-28)
Place premieredGuild Theatre, New York City


The Merchant of Yonkers had its origins in an 1835 one-act farce by the English dramatist John Oxenford. Oxenford's work, A Day Well Spent, was later extended into a full-length play entitled Einen Jux will er sich machen (He Will Go on a Spree or He'll Have Himself a Good Time) by Austrian playwright Johann Nestroy in 1842. Wilder adapted Nestroy's version into an Americanized comedy entitled The Merchant of Yonkers, which revolves around Horace Vandergelder, a wealthy Yonkers, New York businessman in the market for a wife.


Produced by Herman Shumlin and directed by Max Reinhardt, The Merchant of Yonkers opened on Broadway December 28, 1938, at the Guild Theatre. Boris Aronson created the scenic design. The production ran through January 1939, for 39 performances, with the following among the cast:[1]


In 1954, at the request of Edinburgh Festival director Tyrone Guthrie, Wilder made what he later termed "minor revisions" to his original script and rechristened the piece The Matchmaker, under which title it was presented in Edinburgh, followed by a West End theatre production in London which opened at Theatre Royal Haymarket on November 4, 1954. An American production of the revised play opened on Broadway on December 5, 1955 with Ruth Gordon as Dolly and had a far more successful run of 486 performances, followed by a motion picture version starring Shirley Booth as Dolly. The Matchmaker later served as the basis for Jerry Herman's 1964 musical hit Hello, Dolly!, running for 2,844 performances.


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