Vermont's own Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, and three other presidents (John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe) died on that day. July 4 is also a significant day for 42-year-old Jewish accountant Matt Friedman, the hero of the Saint Michael's Playhouse production of "Talley's Folly".
On July 4, 1944, Matt tries to win 31-year-old Methodist Sally Talley's heart. Although Matt (John Patrick Hayden) hopes that he can "waltz" to success with Sally (Abby Lee), he realizes that his wooing may result in some unwelcome Independence Day fireworks. Sally's conservative father sees Matt as "more dangerous than Roosevelt himself," and Sally's bigoted brother Buddy has threatened Matt with a shotgun.
Sally herself does not exactly race into Matt's arms. To her, he is "one total, living loose screw." Matt's waltz may require quite complicated choreography.
Matt's courtship of Sally takes place in a dilapidated, moonlit Victorian boathouse built by Sally's "Uncle Whistler" on the Talley farm in Missouri. The uncle wanted to build a gazebo, but when Sally's father deemed a gazebo a "frivolity," the uncle constructed the gingerbreaded boathouse instead.
Although the boathouse came to be called "Talley's Folly," Uncle Whistler didn't mind at all. According to Sally, her uncle "did exactly what he wanted to do. He was the healthiest member of the family."
Is Matt Friedman Sally Talley's folly? Can they come together despite their disparate backgrounds and amid fierce ethnic prejudice and intolerance? Will their deep, dark secrets prevent their union? In 97 minutes, "Talley's Folly" tells the tale.
Lanford Wilson won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for his romantic drama. July 4 is our most American holiday, and the New York Times has acclaimed Wilson as the "one living playwright whose rebel voice, at once expansive and compassionate, rates being called America's own."
"Talley's Folly" will be at the McCarthy Arts Center through July 11. There will be only one show, a 2 pm matinee, on July 4. For tickets and other information, call 654-3281 or visit academics.smcvt.edu/playhouse.