Lauren discovers why Hello, Dolly! is such a hit…
In the next couple of sentences I am probably going to commit music theatre blasphemy. And I apologise in advance for the bombshell that, for someone who prides herself on knowing quite a bit about musicals, may be a bit shocking: I have never seen, heard of, or quoted a line of dialogue or song lyric from ‘Hello, Dolly!’. Never seen the show, never rented the movie; I had to look up the synopsis of the show on Wikipedia. I know it’s the show made Carol Channing famous, and according to my good friend Wiki, there have been about 5 revivals of the show, each one being as successful as the last. But why is this show so appealing and why does it continue to be popular with companies around the globe? ARC Theatre is one such company taking on this elegant production. I talked to director Stephen Valeri, as well as stars Harrison Wall and Jaclyn DeVinectis about why they think the shows been so successful, and how their version of this classic show is going.
TP: Why do you think ‘Hello, Dolly!’ continues to be a successful and popular today even though it’s over 50 years old?
Stephen: It’s really hard not to love Hello, Dolly! and everything it stands for as a show. Sure, it might not be earth shattering theatre, it might not touch on prevalent issues relevant to today’s society – but it really is a classic piece of musical theatre that is esteemed and renowned for what it is worth. It’s a song and dance show in its purest form. There is something magical and so exciting about the stylization that is now synonymous with this show.
Harrison: Hello, Dolly! is one of the more traditional style musicals that appeal to everybody. It deals with the same social concepts people endure in an engaging and colourful environment. The ideas of marriage, matching couples together etc, still exists 50 years later making this particular show more than relevant today. The only difference is the currency amounts, not everyone thinks a dollar-forty five is that impressive anymore…
Jaclyn: As cliché as it sounds, Hello, Dolly! really is a family favourite, old school musical. It has great songs, a great story and fabulous costumes. Besides all that, I think you have to take into account one of the main messages behind Dolly- that everyone, no matter age, gender, or social status is looking for a bit of love. And I think that message is ageless, hence why audiences keep relating to Jerry Herman’s amazing show.
TP: What made you get involved with this production of ‘Hello Dolly’? Are you a fan of the show? The songs? Idolise Carol Channing?
Harrison: As much as Carol Channing is a babe, she was not the icon that drew me in. In fact, I did not know much of her work until this show although she can speak very fluent Russian, which is pretty impressive. I was drawn in by this show for its music. The songs have an essence about them which really assists the action in the book and onstage. When you hear the music you can just sit back and feel all the emotion these fictional characters are trying to portray its really amazing stuff.
Stephen: I honestly didn’t know all that much about the show before ARC announced it as their 2010 production, apart from a couple of the more well known songs. When I actually started researching it I instantly became obsessed – the script writing is witty and charming, all of the songs hold their own special place in the story line and serve the action taking place on stage superbly, and the characters are so full of life and energy. It’s hard to not fall in love with a show that makes you feel so good!
TP: Having read a brief synopsis of the storyline, ‘Hello Dolly’ seems to be quite a fun show to be involved in! How have you found the rehearsal process?
Stephen: The rehearsals for Dolly certainly have been a lot of fun. It’s hard not to enjoy yourself when you’re putting together a show like this! I’ve honestly been surprised week after week to see just how amusing our cast members are capable of being – they have really taken to the material and have embodied their characters in every sense.
Jaclyn: The rehearsal process for the show has been challenging as much as it has exciting. We’ve been at it since March, so at this point it all seems like second nature. I think the hardest thing about rehearsing for such a long time is the ability to keep the material fresh—unrehearsed. And I think with a great artistic team the cast has been able to do that- to find new and different motivations every Wednesday and Sunday night. Its exciting…you never know what’s going to pop up!
TP: And finally, what can theatregoers expect when they come see your show?
Jaclyn: Theatregoers can expect to see some of Melbourne’s brightest young talent on the Banyule stage. They can expect to laugh, gasp, and even ‘awwww’. Above all though, they can expect to have a fabulous time- and if they pass me in the corridor, and happen to be single- they can expect to leave with a date! I’m all about the method acting!
Harrison: A night of fun, laughter and a Dolly who lights up the stage. Jaclyn DeVincntis is a star in fact they should name something after her….‘Regent Theatre’ sounds a bit outdated perhaps they could change it…