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Sock ‘n’ Buskin’s HELLO, DOLLY! a Real Crowd Pleaser!

Cameron Montanarella, Sophomore, Staff Reporter

Nowadays, if someone is looking for a possible soulmate, they’re only one swipe of an app away from finding that person. It wasn’t so easy at the turn of the 20th century, where people actually had to have a love-match arranged for them. In Sock ‘n’ Buskin’s spring musical, the lead character Dolly Gallagher Levi acted as a matchmaker — a human Tinder app, only decked out in a bustle and an array of enormous hats! Dolly is a bright and cheery widow who loves to meddle in other people’s business, breezing from Yonkers to New York City circa 1895, to bring no fewer than four couples together. In the performance of junior Athena Woodfin, it was very easy to take a liking to her buoyant character. For three performances, on March 23, 24 and 25, it was perfectly clear why, wherever she went, everyone joyously exclaimed, “Hello, Dolly!”

Based on Thornton Wilder’s play, The Matchmaker, it was transformed into the musical Hello, Dolly! by Michael Stewart, with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman..Hello, Dolly! is an energetic musical that left audiences wonderstruck as it took the viewers through Dolly’s journey to put herself out into the world again after the death of her husband and find love — for herself and for others.

Horace Vandergelder, the rich and handsome man that caught Dolly’s eye, is a bit of a cheapskate, in spite of the half-million he has in the bank. He more than makes up for this with his attitude — cranky, most of the time! As played by junior Jack Hopkins, Vandergelder came to life with strong vocals and convincingly exasperated expressions that made him the perfect love interest for Dolly.

Junior Sam Rodd played Cornelius Hackl, a downtrodden young clerk in search of just one adventure before he gets too old to enjoy it. He and his wide-eyed partner, Barnaby Tucker, played by sophomore Jack Finegan, delivered an abundance of laughter. Their dancing and singing charmed the audience, as did their well-intended attempt to impress the two women they have stumbled across (with Dolly’s assistance, of course). Junior Maggie Solimine as Irene Molloy, and sophomore Meredith Heller as Minnie, discover that it only takes a moment to fall in love with the young men, while creating playful characterizations, and demonstrating strong voices and fine dancing.

Senior Jillian Harrison as Vandergelder’s ever-sobbing niece Ermengarde, was both funny and graceful. Her love interest was the painter Ambrose Kemper… and here’s where a little behind-the-scenes drama took place.

Senior Will Shelton, originally cast as Ambrose, injured his ankle during a track practice five days before Opening and had to be replaced by sophomore Charlie Pedorella. Will and Charlie switched roles, both creating vivid characters (with Pedorella mastering a complex dance routine). Their professionalism in handling this crisis is to be applauded. If the audience hadn’t been informed in advance, no one would have been aware of the change.

And then there’s Dolly. Athena Woodfin was able to capture the character of Dolly perfectly, and sang with a strong and passionate voice that gave the show life. With broad humor, she had the audience in near tears as she gobbled half a turkey during the show’s climactic trial scene. With pathos, she was heartbreaking as she spoke to the spirit of her husband, asking him permission to “rejoin life” by marrying again. With hope, she inspired the audience to go out and take a chance before the parade passes us all by.

The entire cast was lively and energetic. The waiters and chefs of the Harmonia Gardens leaped, twirled, and even fenced with shish-kebabs in a blur of Mr. Jesse Pellegrino’s athletic choreography; the kaleidoscope of color in Mr. Scheifer’s costumes was astounding; and the comical pace set by Mr. Beck’s and Mr. Schleifer’s direction proved that one doesn’t need an app to know that Hello, Dolly! and Sock ‘n’ Buskin were a perfect match!

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Sock ‘n’ Buskin’s HELLO, DOLLY! a Real Crowd Pleaser!