Valley theater fans will have plenty to do over the next couple of weekends, with four major shows opening between Friday night ("The Matchmaker" at Role Players Ensemble in Danville) and Jan. 24 ("A Chorus Line" in Pleasanton's Firehouse Arts Center.
In between, on Saturday, Tri-Valley Repertory is opening "The Drowsy Chaperone" in Livermore's Bankhead Theater.
And, if that's not enough, you can go interactive with Role Players' "Matchmaker" Jan. 25, when the company brings in a real matchmaker to spice up things for audience members looking for a match with another theater fan. Professional matchmaker Anni Powers, will be at the performance where those interested in being matched will fill out surveys before the 8 p.m. show, and matches will be made at the intermission.
After the show, a reception will be hosted by the theater at nearby Faz restaurant for those who want to continue their evening. But even without live matchmaking, "The Matchmaker" -- which plays at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 8 in the Village Theatre at 233 Front St. in Danville -- offers an evening full of fun.
The play is probably most familiar as the musical "Hello Dolly," which was adapted from "The Matchmaker," which, while lacking music, has a bit more development of character and plot -- particularly that of Horace, and with a slightly different impression of Dolly. But the show still contains the delightful small-town humor of the musical and the delightful characters of Barnaby and Cornelius, who fall beneath the spell of romance and decide to have their own adventure in the Big City at the same time that Dolly and Horace are getting together.
Thornton Wilder's 1955 play is a rewritten version of his play, "The Merchant of Yonkers," which opened the same year of his masterpiece, "Our Town," which won a Pulitzer Prize for 1938. While "Merchant of Yonkers failed on Broadway, "Matchmaker" won Wilder his third Pulitzer (the first was for his novel, "The Bridge of San Luis Rey"). Tickets to "Matchmaker, at $20 to $28, can be reserved at 925-312-3400 or www.RolePlayersEnsemble.com.
Firehouse: "A CHORUS LINE" opens at 8 p.m. Jan. 24 in Pleasanton's Firehouse Arts Center.
The Pacific Coast Repertory Theatre production features Broadway performer Meredith Patterson in the lead role of Cassie, the dancer/actress who is trying to return to the chorus after an unsuccessful attempt at larger roles.
Lois Grandi, founder of Walnut Creek's Playhouse West and a Broadway performer in her own right, directs the show, which also features Pleasanton favorite and Lauren Bratton-Kearns, a New York resident who plays the role of Val, who sings the tune, "Dance 10, Looks 3."
"A Chorus Line," which was developed from a series of revealing interviews with actual Broadway chorus members from the '70s, is essentially a bittersweet love letter to members of the chorus. Set around an audition for an unnamed musical, the unseen director interviews those who are auditioning, leading many of them to reveal some emotional and explosive moments of their life as he culls the herd, working toward the few who will actually be cast in the show.
"A Chorus Line," one of only a handful of musicals to win the Pulitzer Prize (in 1976) was, for a time the longest-running show in Broadway history. It is still ranked sixth, at 6,137 performances, trailing the first place "Phantom of the Opera," still running after 10,784 performances. "Phantom" is also the longest-running Broadway-style musical that played in San Francisco.
The show plays in the Firehouse at 4444 Railroad Ave. in Pleasanton with performances at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 9. Tickets, at $18 to $38, may be reserved at 925-931-4848, www.pcrtproductions.org or www.firehousearts.org.
Contact Pat Craig at email@example.com.