High-schoolers going strong in ‘Hello, Dolly’ at StageDoor

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By Sara Miller

Say the words “Hello, Dolly” in public, and you’re bound to hear at least a handful of people whistling or humming the eponymous song from the 1964 Broadway musical. With its catchy tunes and farcical plot, “Hello, Dolly” sticks with audiences long after they’ve left their seats. StageDoor Theatre’s production of this Tony-winning musical should prove no different. The high school company is filled with new faces and brings a fresh energy to the time-honored Broadway bonanza.
“We’ve had 14 seniors graduate in the last two years,” says director Nelson Conway. “There is a strong sense of turning a page in terms of the high school company at StageDoor. We have a lot of new talent, and they are working really hard to bring ‘Hello, Dolly’ to the stage.”
Conway chose “Hello, Dolly” because, in recent seasons, StageDoor’s high school company has not performed a traditional Broadway show with rousing all-company musical-theater numbers. All that is about to change. Under the musical direction of Conway and the skilled choreography of Diane DeMarco, the young company is stepping into the shows of Broadway greats like Carol Channing and Charles Nelson Reilly.
The premise of “Hello, Dolly” is simple: A widowed New York matchmaker meddles just enough in the business of others to help them find true love. In the midst of her earnest and sometimes misguided meddling, Dolly might just find love for herself, too. The show is based on Thornton Wilder’s play “The Matchmaker,” written in 1938. The story is about Dolly Gallegher Levi (played by Rachel Hammond), the matchmaker who has been hired to arrange a marriage for the widowed Horace Vandergelder (played by James Landon).
Dolly has her sights on Irene Molloy (played by Gretchen Franz) to be Vandergelder’s mate, but quickly decides that the cranky almost-millionaire might be better suited as her own husband. The pair set out from Yonkers for the big city to track down love. Meanwhile, in Vandergelder’s absence, two of his employees set out to explore New York City for themselves.
In the classic farce format, Cornelius (played by Tanner Buffy) and Barnaby (portrayed by Riley Mack) spot their employer on the streets of New York and duck into a hat shop to escape. The hat shop is owned by none other than Irene Molloy, who is scheduled to meet Vandergelder, so the boys are forced to hide in the shop. When Vandergelder becomes suspicious that Miss Molloy is hiding men in her shop, the betrothed gentleman storms off. Dolly gets to work setting up Cornelius and Barnaby with Molloy and her assistant Minnie Fay (played by Katherine Himstedt). What unfolds is a night of dinner and dancing at the Harmonia Gardens dance hall, and a tale of fated and ill-fated love resulting in at least three successful matchmaking ventures for Dolly.
The show takes place on a set designed by Dean Arniotes, complete with a two-story feed store, and a Harmonia Gardens filled with alcoves and stairways just right for matchmaking mishaps. The live accompaniment is played by a four-piece ensemble of musicians. “The show was originally scored for a big band, and our quartet is doing an amazing job of creating such a complete sound,” says Conway.
The rich musical accompaniment and the vocal talents of the young cast combine to bring the show to life. “ ‘Hello, Dolly’ is a theater experience for all ages,” says Conway. “It’s a funny, entertaining show that people are going to want to see.”  
And you’re sure to hear people humming on the way out.

Sara Miller, a freelance writer and a resident of Evergreen, lives with her husband, two children and a dog.

Hello, Dolly
Presented by StageDoor Theatre
Oct. 28 through Nov. 12
Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. (no performance on Nov 13, but Nov 12 will have a 2 p.m. matinee and 7 p.m. evening performance)
Tickets: $15 to $18
For more information, call 800-838-3006 or visit www.stagedoortheatre.org.