With its record-breaking Tony wins, multiple revivals, and easily recognizable tunes, “Hello, Dolly!” has truly become a Broadway classic, making the artists involved in its production, like Louis Armstrong and Carol Channing, household names. This year, under the conscientious guidance of Math teacher and veteran director, Mr. Tom Sankey, Mt. Hebron produced a marvelous interpretation of the classic, with the help and hard work of over 200 students, parents and members of the community. Shows took place on March 13, 14, 19, 20 and 21.
The play “The Merchant of Yonkers,” by Thornton Wilder, later renamed “The Matchmaker,” was adapted to the musical “Hello, Dolly!,” which first opened on Broadway in 1964. The musical went on to win 10 Tony Awards during its first running year, including Best Musical and Best Original Score.
Several years later, in 1969, “Hello, Dolly!” was adapted for the silver screen; the film unsurprisingly won multiple Academy Awards and Golden Globes. The musical was then brought back to Broadway in 1978, and again in 1995, at which times it was nominated for additional Tony awards.
“Hello, Dolly!” is a comedy set in 1890s New York and revolves around events in the life of Dolly Gallagher Levi (senior Carly Wakefield), an opportunistic and bold widow who prides herself upon meddling in the affairs of others in the form of a matchmaker as a living. The story begins with Dolly arriving in Yonkers, New York with the purported objective of finding a bride for the established, half-a millionaire, Horace Vandergelder (senior Cole Watts), but in reality, Dolly herself has intentions of marrying him.
Meanwhile, Horace’s whiny niece, Ermengarde (sophomores Grace Dillon and Emma Kate Davis), seeks Dolly’s help in marrying her beau, Ambrose Kemper (junior Tomas Paral), an artist Horace disapproves of because of his financial instability.
At the same time, to further complicate matters, the audience then learns of Cornelius Hackl (junior Tharen Rice) and Barnaby Tucker (sophomore Kevin Nolan and junior Mike Olson), a clerk and an apprentice, respectively, working for Vandergelder’s Hay and Feed. The two long for a day off so that they can explore the world beyond Yonkers.
In Mr. Vandergelder’s absence, the two close up shop for the day and head to New York City, happening upon the hat shop of one Irene Molloy (senior Naomi Abankwah), a widow who wishes to be loved and romanced again. This wish is both helped and hindered by her naïve shop assistant, Minnie Fay (sophomore Alyssa Tschirgi and junior Kendall Grove).
Through Dolly’s well-meaning, but scheming and meddlesome ways, the plot of “Hello, Dolly!” includes twists and turns full of drama, glamour and just a little bit of “Dancing” and “Elegance.”
As the titular character Dolly, Wakefield proved that to meddle correctly “It Takes a Woman.” Wakefield showcased her charisma and vocal talent in “Call on Dolly” and “Hello, Dolly.” Wakefield was also able to fully captivate and enthrall the audience with her unmistakable skill in portraying sarcastic characters with her ability to crack jokes and make hilarious facial expressions. Losing Wakefield to college will truly be a tremendous loss to Mt. Hebron’s theatre program.
As the male lead, Watts did a phenomenal job portraying the rough and callous exterior of Horace Vandergelder, but then was able to flawlessly transition to show the softer, kinder side of Horace’s personality. Watts exhibited a true mastery of the stage and of the arts while also displaying his gifted voice in “It Takes a Woman,” “So Long, Dearie” and “Hello, Dolly.”
In yet another show-stopping performance, Abankwah, who has a long history of successfully portraying difficult roles, wowed audiences with her impressive vocal range and command of the stage. As Mrs. Molloy, Abankwah’s chilling and soulful rendition of “Ribbons Down My Back” ensured that not a single dry eye was left in the audience.
One of the evening’s breakout stars was senior Katiana Weems ,who left the audience in hysterics after her hilarious performance as Ernestina Money, Horace Vandergelder’s daring suitor with a tendency for lascivious behavior. Weems truly wowed in her first speaking role with arguably one of the most memorable performances of the night.
In addition, Rice succeeded in being one of the most dynamic and endearing characters with his portrayal of the adventurous and lovable Cornelius Hackl. Rice also showed off his singing chops with “Put On Your Sunday Clothes,” “Dancing” and the heartfelt ballad, “It Only Takes a Moment.”
It would be completely remiss to speak on the success of “Hello, Dolly!” without giving credit where credit is due to the people working tirelessly behind the scenes. The tech crew, under the direction of senior Head Tech Zack Stewart did a marvelous job highlighting and accenting the production and succeeded in drawing attention to key moments and scenes.
Stage Crew, under the direction of Stage Manager and senior Erik Schilstra, arranged scene changes in a timely and organized fashion, making the production run seamlessly. The crew and the Costume Department created carefully constructed sets and a flawless wardrobe for the characters that greatly enhanced the overall environment.
The musical talent of Band Director Mr. Will Marrin and the pit orchestra, which comprises musicians from Mt. Hebron’s band and orchestra, evoked feelings reminiscent of a beautiful time gone by and made the performance even more enjoyable.
It is clear to see that this year’s spring musical was a bonafide success that will be remembered for many years to come. Once again, Mr. Sankey, Choir Director Mr. Chris Hettenbach and Choreographer Ms. Amanda Tschirgi have succeeded in leading a very talented group of students to execute yet another wonderful production. The Mountain Staff cannot wait to see what Mr. Sankey will bring to the table next year!