Mount Hebron's `Dolly' brims with energy, spirit, comedy

April 11, 2008|By Liz Savopoulos | Liz Savopoulos,special to the sun

Some people paint, some sew, and Dolly Levi meddles. Mount Hebron High School's production of the musical farce, Hello, Dolly! intertwined hilarious story lines with riotous physical comedy, outrageous characters and strong commitment from cast members.

In Yonkers, N.Y., everyone knows to call Dolly for anything, from furniture to daffodils to lives. When Dolly decides to remarry after years of being a widow, she sets her sights on the insufferably stubborn (and equally rich) Mr. Horace Vandergelder. Dolly must also help others find happiness without losing sight of her aspirations.

The script of this show relies heavily on physical comedy, such as the frantic, gymnastic waiters in the restaurant scene, or Barnaby and Cornelius trying to hide from their boss, Horace, in a lady's hat shop. The leads brought a unique flavor to this unusual and entertaining blocking.

Mrs. Dolly Levi has been tackled by some of Broadway's greatest leading ladies, from Carol Channing in the original Broadway cast to Barbra Streisand in the 1969 movie adaptation. Amanda Ross never imitated these women; her portrayal of Dolly Levi reveals her talents as a performer. Her refined stage presence and her rich, belting voice were reminiscent of old Broadway glamor, which was refreshing to see in a high school show.

As Vandergelder, Dan Kennett kept the audience in stitches from his first entrance to the curtain call. He snarled and groaned with the perfect mix of bitterness and wit. His mannerisms and facial expressions never faltered or broke character, despite the obvious difficulty of holding a scowl for two hours.

As Cornelius and Barnaby, Jeff Pfeifer and Anthony Gioia, respectively, were endearingly naive and youthful, delivering their lines with energy and spunk. Pfeifer's rich, melodic voice lent itself perfectly to softer, more tender moments in the show.

The cast's willingness to commit to the hilarious antics of this show gave it the energy and spirit onstage. This dedication, coupled with the leads' individual vocal and comedic talents, made Mount Hebron's Hello, Dolly! a fresh new take on a classic Broadway farce.

Liz Savopoulos, a student at Reservoir High School, reviewed "Hello, Dolly!" for the Cappies of Baltimore, a program in which students review high school productions under the direction of their teachers and vote on awards for outstanding performances.

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