The Merchant of Yonkers

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First edition (publ . Harper and Brothers)

The Merchant of Yonkers is a play by Thornton Wilder.

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. 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.

The Broadway production, starring Jane Cowl as Dolly Gallagher Levi and Percy Waram as Vandergelder, and directed by Max Reinhardt, opened on December 28, 1938 at the Guild Theatre, where it ran for 39 performances. The cast also included June Walker and Tom Ewell.

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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