Hello, Dolly!
by The John Cooper School
It Only Takes a Moment to be loved your whole life long, but you’ve got to get that moment in order to take it. And whether you ain’t got Elegance or not, It Takes a Woman like the singular Dolly Levi, the biggest busybody in turn-of-the-century New York City, to make sure you get that opportunity. She’s a professional matchmaker (among countless other odd jobs). And she’s got a lot of matches to strike in the course of the next 24 hours. Including a match for the half-a-millionaire hay-and-feed entrepreneur from Yonkers, Mr. Horace Vandergelder. Horace thinks that Dolly is taking him off to get engaged to widowed haberdasher Irene Molloy, but widowed Dolly has other plans. Because Dolly has decided to re-marry Before the Parade Passes By, and she’s got her sights set on a half-a-millionaire from Yonkers. Assuming her beloved late husband sends a sign of approval.

Director Joseph DeMonico and The John Cooper School in The Woodlands, Texas recently staged an elaborate production of this classic musical. Playing the singular Dolly is the singular Meredith Tyler, a highly talented and versatile actress who this past summer was a rip as Miss Hannigan in Class Act’s Annie. Now in a completely different role, she completely delights as the fast-talking Dolly who has a lot of matches to set up and people to teach how to dance if she’s going to make up Vandergelder’s mind about marrying her. Besides the humorous persona, Meredith also wows vocally and finds the sensitive heart of the widow who misses her late husband in a beautifully and powerfully performed rendition of Before the Parade Passes By.

T. J. Seefeldt is her unwitting prey who is so sure that he’s being led to see Irene Molloy about a proposal that he splurged and bought her the expensive kind of chocolate-covered peanuts – unshelled. Yes, Vandergelder can be a bit on the cheap side (a trait that Dolly plans on doing away with). T. J. does a good job as the “rich, friendless, and mean” middle-aged man who is confused but eventually softened by Dolly’s shenanigans. He leads the cast in an amusingly staged It Takes a Woman scene that has the men trying to sound manly as they extol the virtues of “dainty” women who are seen lugging around large sacks of flour and whatnot.

Two other couples form most of the subplot when Vandergelder’s chief clerk and assistant clerk, Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker, decide to leave their job in Yonkers and have an adventure in New York City that will hopefully result in kissing a girl (something they’ve never come close to doing thus far). Ross Davis and Vikram Paul turn in nice performances as the sheltered but optimistic clerks who end up running into the hat shop of Irene Molloy and her young assistant Minnie Fay. As Irene Molloy, Elizabeth Castillo sings a mesmerizing version of Ribbons Down My Back, while Whitney Brandt stars as a bright and giggly Minnie Fay. They combine for a comical scene as the women try to get the clerks out of their hat shop without Vandergelder seeing them, using a big patriotic address that successfully distracts Vandergelder but is so catchy that Cornelius and Barnaby can’t help but join in. Elsewhere, Rachael Brubaker is Vandergelder’s niece Ermengarde who insists she’s plenty mature to marry her poor artist boyfriend Ambrose (Cody Jaeger), and then she amusingly cries and stomps about when she doesn’t get her way. Maggie Hohlfeld is a hoot in the brief scene as Dolly’s decidedly un-elegant friend Ernestina Money.

So much of this show is dependent on big ensemble numbers, and the cast of John Cooper School light the stage up with good dancing, glowing smiles, and help from Choreographer/Costume Designer extraordinaire Elizabeth DeMonico. Dolly Levi is dressed to the nines with fantastic outfits and gorgeous hats. One of the parents is a milliner and demonstrated how to make some sample hats. Elizabeth and her co-workers ran with it and created a wide array of beautiful hats for Dolly and all the women in the cast, as well as parasols and matching dresses. The result is a feast for the ideas in scenes like Put On Your Sunday Clothes and the more elegant dresses for a night at the Harmonia Gardens. Elizabeth’s choreography also shines in those scenes, with the cast turning into the train from Yonkers to New York in Sunday Clothes (the parasols becoming wheels) and great dancing by the waiters and patrons of the Harmonia Gardens as Dolly Levi is welcomed back with a big, “Hello!”

Performs November 9 - 11, 2007.

Rob Hopper
Executive Director
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~
Dolly Levi: Meredith Tyler
Horace Vandergelder: T. J. Seefeldt
Cornelius Hackl: Ross Davis
Barnaby Tucker: Vikram Paul
Irene Molloy: Elizabeth Castillo
Minnie Fay: Whitney Brandt
Ernestina: Maggie Hohlfield
Ambrose Kemper: Cody Jaeger
Ermengarde: Rachael Brubaker
Rudolph Reisenweber: Renjeet Paul
Judge: Nick Miller
Policeman: Phillip LeFevre
Coachman: Jackson Slater
Paperhanger, 1st Cook: Mark Farley
2nd Cook: Roma Patel
Court Clerk: Megan Fricke
Stanley: James Tawney
Mrs. Rose: Caitlin Lashier
Nisha Balsara
Kathryn Meyer
Madison Cagle
Caite McCarthy
Caitlin O'Neill
Caitlin Lashier
Nick Miller
Emily Jacobson
Margie McGregor
Megan Fricke
Phillip Le Fevre
Jackson Slater
Mark Farley
Hope Coleman
Lauren Gallup
Kathleen Riley
James Tawney
Madeleine Anderson
Roma Patel
Natasha Sinclair
Emily Stibbs
Becky Schwartz

Director: Joseph DeMonico
Choreographer: Elizabeth DeMonico
Music Director: Donna Arnold
Orchestra Conductor: Steve Sandifer
Scenic Artist: Rod Flower
Lighting Designer: Brad Myers


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