Members of Southwick Players rehearsing for their latest production, The Matchmaker, were thrilled to receive a personal letter from the family of the author.
Thornton Wilder had huge success with the play on Broadway, following its launch in London’s West End, and it was later adapted for the film Hello Dolly! starring Carol Channing.
Tappan Wilder, Thornton’s nephew, sent his best wishes from California, writing: “The Wilder family salutes the Southwick Players for producing The Matchmaker. The play lit up the sky over the West End 65 years ago and will do so again on your stage.
“Bring on the band! Let the laughter roll!”
The letter was read out to the cast by president Gary Cook at the start of a rehearsal session.
The Players were also sent a 1955 backstage photograph of Thornton with Ruth Gordon, who earned a Tony Award nomination for her role as Dolly Levi, as well as some fascinating pages of the script containing the author’s handwritten notes.
The Matchmaker, directed by Kate Armes, will be at The Barn Theatre in Southwick Community Centre from Wednesday, December 11, to Saturday, December 14, at 7.30pm daily.
Professional poker player Sam Razavi will appear as Horace Vandergelder, his debut with the Players.
Spokesman Amanda Reeves said: “Sam had a brief flirt with life as a professional board treader, until a fellow actor introduced him to poker. He has since forged a successful career as a professional poker player and now travels the world.
“But Sam says acting is ultimately his number one passion and his talents in that direction serve him well with delivering his poker face during games.”
Horace is a widower who wishes to marry again. Being a successful businessman, he engages the services of independent, strong-willed and big-hearted Dolly, the matchmaker of the title.
Dolly, who is herself looking to marry again, says she is determined to make her life more interesting. Tin cans explode, people hide in wardrobes, identities are mistaken, a wallet is lost and there are no fewer than four romances.
Tickets are £11. Call 01273 597094 or visit www.southwickplayers.org.uk