Broadway Global spotlights Riverside Theatre’s production of Hello Dolly! Directed and Choreographed by James Brennan, this top regional production reminds our Nation just how special this classic is for musical theatre. It doesn’t hurt that Broadway Producer Scott Rudin had just announced that he would bring a revival of Hello, Dolly! back to Broadway next year starring Bette Midler, who confirmed the exciting announcement to her Twitter fans! Riverside Theatre’s Director James Brennan shares how Dolly captured his heart, starting on Broadway.
“Hello, Dolly! was the first Broadway show I ever saw. We were in the last row of the top (2nd) balcony of the St. James Theatre in New York. Ginger Rogers was the star; the rest of the cast was the original. Years later, when I worked with Ginger, I thanked her for the wonderful beginning she gave me. She graciously said to me “That’s what we do. We pass it on. Now it’s your turn.” So here I am passing it on. Not just this show, but every show I’ve ever seen that taught me, that moved me, that made me howl with laughter, that showed me that live theatre could overwhelm and excite and move you deeply. Hello, Dolly! is interesting because it is a love song to the 1890’s and a vaudeville style that is seldom seen nowadays, but still works fifty years later… like gangbusters!” James Brennan.
Riverside Theatre’s production is directed and choreographed by James Brennan and stars: Michele Ragusa as Dolly Levi, Adam Heller and Horace Vandergelder, Jeff Sears as Cornelius Hackl, Ryan Breslin as Barnaby Tucker, Jazmin Gorsline as Irene Malloy, Alyssa Malgeri as Minnie Fay, John Jeffords as Ambrose Kemper, Kristen Brooks Sandler as Ermengarde, Kara Mikula as Ernestina Money, James Beaman as Rudolph Reisenweber, Emily Esposito as Mrs. Rose, and Roger Preston Smith as Judge.
Hello, Dolly! opened on Broadway in 1964 and ran for 2,844 performances. It held the record for most Tony Award wins by a show in a single year until 2001 when it was surpassed by The Producers, which won twelve. Set in New York at the turn of the twentieth century, Dolly is a brassy widow who works as a matchmaker, dance instructor and mandolin teacher. She is hired by Horace Vandergelder, a wealthy merchant from Yonkers, NY, to find him a wife. Consequently, Dolly decides she is ready to remarry, and contrives to win Horace for herself. The first candidate, Irene Malloy, is the owner of a hat shop in Manhattan. When Horace goes to Manhattan to meet Irene, he finds some men hiding in Irene’s shop and storms out in a huff. He doesn’t realize the men are his clerks, Cornelius and Barnaby, who have been encourage by Dolly to pretend they are wealthy playboys when they visit the hat shop. Dolly mollifies Horace by introducing him to another candidate, the unsuitable heiress, Ernestina Money. When all characters converge at a fancy restaurant, love blossoms, matches are made, and happiness reigns.
“I also got to work with Michael Stewart, who wrote the book for Dolly. He was the best librettist ever. He could pare anything down to its essential elements, leaving plenty of room for the musical numbers. That’s how he saw his job, and he was gifted at it. Compare the Dolly script to Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker. The essence is there (and in some instances enhanced), but Wilder engaged your brain. Michael engaged your heart. He also made people laugh out loud. And he eliminated the entire original third act! That’s quite a trick! This allowed Jerry Herman to get all the credit for those wonderful musical moments he concocted. In the end, the character of Dolly Gallagher Levi survives beautifully as a passionate, determined, self-determining, and charming women to this day. All in a setting that reminds us how far we’ve come. That’s quite a lot for a musical theatre piece, no?” Director James Brennan, led by Producing Artistic Director/CEO Allen D. Cornell and Managing Director/COO Jon R. Moses, present the enduring Broadway classic, Hello Dolly!, which performs on the Stark Stage from March 8 to 27, 2016. Hello, Dolly! is sponsored by the O’Haire Fessler Group-Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and Riverside Theatre’s Patron Producers’ Group.” James Brennan.
Winner of ten Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Hello, Dolly! is one of Broadway’s most delightful musical comedies. Based on the comedy The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder, Hello, Dolly! tells the story of widowed matchmaker Dolly Levi, who connects, meddles and negotiates everyone’s perfect match. Through a series of comedic romantic entanglements, even she finds her perfect man. Thrilling audiences for over 50 years, Hello, Dolly! features the irresistible, show-stopping, Jerry Herman penned songs: “Put on Your Sunday Clothes,” “It Only Takes A Moment”, “Before The Parade Passes By,” and the unforgettable title song, “Hello, Dolly!”.
Carol Channing was cast as Dolly in the original production when it opened at the St. James Theatre on Broadway. In the six years of the original run, many stars took over the role including Ginger Rogers, Betty Grable, Pearl Bailey, and Phyllis Diller and Ethel Merman, both of whom originally turned down the role. The original cast album was the number one album on the Billboard pop chart in 1964 and Louis Armstrong’s recording of the title song, Hello, Dolly!, was the number one single, making Armstrong, at age 63, the oldest chart-topper ever.
The remaining cast members include: Maddy Apple, Halley Cianfarini, Chloé O. Davis, Michael Peter Deeb, Kelsey Flannery, Chloe Fox, Danielle Marie Gregoire, Samantha Cho Grossman, Tripp Hampton, Katherine Hintz, Katie Keller, Elliott Mattox, Bethany Anjelica Menjivar, Jeremy Miranda, Linda Neel, Sean Potter, Jennifer Seifter, Adam Soniak, Lucas Thompson, Ian Thomson, Christopher Tipps, and Jake Weinstein.
The production crew includes: Anne Shuttlesworth (Music Director), Cliff Simon (Scenic Designer), Kurt Alger (Costume Designer), Julie Duro (Lighting Designer), Craig Beyrooti (Sound Designer) Mark Johnson (Production Stage Manager) and Amy M. Bertacini (Assistant Production Stage Manager). Casting was done in New York City by Wojcik / Seay Casting.
Hello, Dolly! performs March 8 – 27, 2016 on the Stark Stage at Riverside Theatre. Tickets start at $35. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 772-231-6990 or online at www.riversidetheatre.com. Performances are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 7:30pm; Opening Night (the first Tuesday performance), Fridays, and Saturdays at 8pm; with matinees on Wednesdays, select Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm.Performance Schedule: March 8, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25 & 26 @ 8pm March 9, 12, 13, 16, 17, 19, 20, 23, 26 @ 27 @ 2pm March 9, 10, 16, 17, 22, 23 & 24 @ 7:30pm The remaining production on the Stark Stage for the 2015-2016 season is Sister Act (April 12 – May 1). Don’t miss upcoming productions on the Riverside Theratre ‘s Waxlax Stage Freud’s Last Session (March 22 – April 3). Riverside Theatre joins the “fun in the sun arts destination”, Sunny Florida has amazing award winning theatre. Riverside Theatre is a Broadway Global top regional critic pick for professional theatre. Please share this artcile on your favorite social media forms, and add your comments and reviews in Florida Theatre Chat, for 17,000 arts lovers. USA Theatre Chat offers form for National support of arts related stories. Don’t miss Hello Dolly! at a Broadway Global top regional theatre.