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Gering presents ‘The Matchmaker’ this weekend Cast rallies to produce show after untimely death of teacher
November 13, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

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Photos by Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen Ambrose (Jim Eastman) explains his situation to Gertrude (Devan Hawkins) in the opening act of “The Matchmaker.”

Gering High School students will be onstage this weekend as the school presents the Thornton Wilder comedy “The Matchmaker.”

The play had been selected over the summer by long-time social studies teacher Jason DeMaranville, who also directed to fall show. After his unexpected death on Aug. 24, junior high teacher Yvonne Smith and Marlaina Seay took over as co-directors. The cast was ready to do the show in honor of “Mr. D.” who has taught them so much about the theater.

“It’s always interesting going into a production where you know someone has already planned something out,” Seay said. “I tried to design a set very quickly because we started the rehearsal process very soon after Jason’s death.”

She said there are four different sets for the show, along with numerous scene changes. She also thanked Justin Reinmuth’s building class for their help in getting the sets built.

“The kids were already planning on doing the show on their own if they needed to,” Seay said. “They rallied themselves together and have done well. I think the long rehearsal process, starting in early September, can actually take a toll on them. But they’re ready for opening night.”

Allie Baird, who plays the lead as Dolly Levi, said the cast came together to make the show happen despite all that was happening at the time.

“All the seniors got together and decided we were going to make it happen, with or without a director,” she said. “We’re grateful for Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Seay for helping. “Rehearsals have been tough and obviously emotional. Everything brings back reminders of Mr. D., but we worked through it and formed a strong bond.”

Since her freshman year, Baird has worked with Mr. D on five shows.

“I like the character of Dolly,” she said. “She’s a matchmaker and getS to meddle in everyone’s lives. In some ways I’m like her and it’s been fun to find that.”

Baird admitted that she suffers from “crazy anxiety” prior to a show, but once on stage, all of it goes away. She plans to pursue that profession in the future.

“I can almost hear Mr. D yelling at us for not having our lines memorized,” she said. “In a real sense, he’s still here.”

“The Matchmaker” is a fun farce that was written as a prelude to “Hello Dolly.” It’s the story of Dolly Levi, who’s determined to marry the very wealthy Horace Vandergelder. How she gets him to propose makes for some funny situations and great laughs.

The cast includes Allie Baird as Dolly Levi, Amanda Horrocks as August, Becky Boyd as Flora Van Huysen, Brock Belgum as Malachi Stack, Carsyn Long as Mrs. Molloy, Collin Potts as Cornelius Hackl, Devan Hawkins as Gertrude, Ethan Parks as the cabman, Jaycee Rice as the cook, Jazmine Cruz as the musician, Jim Eastman as Ambrose, Jon Hastings as Horace Vandergelder, Kaitlyn Wilson as the musician, Karina Clark as Josephine, Keagan Heilbrun as Barnaby Tucker, Kristian Hughes as Rudolf, Sheridan Blanco as Minnie Fay and Sydney Havengar as Ermengarde.
The crew includes Dawson Johns, Kira Wysocki, Landon Vacha and Sarah Wagoner.

“The Matchmaker” will be performed Friday and Saturday, Nov. 13 and 14 in the Gering High School auditorium at 7 p.m. Tickets are $6 and are available at the door.##

Josephine (Karina Clark) tries to give Horace Vandergelder (Jon Hastings) a shave while he complains about business.
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