Matchmaking and merriment make their way to the Champlin Park stage in ‘Hello, Dolly!’

Champlin Park High School is reaching back into the Golden Age of Broadway to stage one of the most iconic musicals from the late 1960s, “Hello, Dolly!” opening Friday, Nov. 2.

Sophomore Kayla Chidester (center) takes on the challenge of Dolly Levi for her debut role in a musical. During the show, audiences will get to see matchmaker Dolly Levi in action as she is here with ensemble members Mackenzie Rue (left) and Logan Oglesby (right). Photo by Mindy Mateuszczyk

Sophomore Kayla Chidester (center) takes on the challenge of Dolly Levi for her debut role in a musical. During the show, audiences will get to see matchmaker Dolly Levi in action as she is here with ensemble members Mackenzie Rue (left) and Logan Oglesby (right). Photo by Mindy Mateuszczyk

In addition to winning 10 Tony awards, including Best Musical, “Hello, Dolly!” holds a special place in director Jason Millner’s heart.

“Hello, Dolly! was the first production I ever saw,” said Millner.

Millner saw the 1994 national tour with Carol Channing when it came to Minneapolis.

“I fell in love with the show and am thrilled with the opportunity to finally direct it,” he said.

The musical centers around Dolly Levi, a well-known matchmaker, who attempts to find herself a husband in the wealthy Horace Vandergelder so she can put his money to good use by “spreading it around encouraging young things to grow.” She continues her matchmaking pursuits for many other couples including Vandergelder’s niece, Ermengarde. Hijinx ensue and threaten to ruin her own plans. It’s up to Dolly to seal the deal with Vandergelder.

Millner has assembled approximately 30 cast members and an additional group of student crew members to stage the production.

Newcomer, sophomore Kayla Chidester, will portray Dolly Levi. This is Chidester’s debut appearance in musical theater of any kind. Chidester says her biggest challenge comes with some of the vocal selections.

“The song ‘So Long Dearie’ is really high,” she said. Chidester has relied on strategies she’s learned from the show’s musical director, Ms. Temple, to achieve those high notes. She’s also enjoyed the challenge of scenes such as the Motherhood March with its complex and fast-paced blocking.

Her favorite part of the experience has been meeting all the new people and working with Millner.

“He’s a great director,” she said.

Senior Heather Bates portrays Ermengarde, the whiny, weepy niece of Horace Vandergelder.

“This is a very dance heavy performance,” said Bates, who has performed in numerous shows both with CPHS and her sister’s company, Shooting Stars Productions. Bates believes the show’s high energy and easygoing story about the joy of living with its fun characters makes it a must-see production.

Senior Tom Brumbaugh portrays Horace Vandergelder, the curmudgeony “half-a-millionaire” that is the target of Dolly Levi’s pursuits. Brumbaugh agrees that the choreography, created by CPHS alum Emily Madigan, is a challenge but worth coming to see combined with the show’s good storyline.

The show also offers another unique first with its set design. The student crew helped to build a platform that wraps around the orchestra pit allowing for more intimacy and attention to be focused on certain parts of the show and its choreography.

 

 

If you go…

There will be six performances of the production. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. for shows Friday, Nov. 2; Saturday, Nov. 3; Thursday, Nov. 8; Friday, Nov. 9; and Saturday, Nov. 10. There will also be a matinee Saturday, Nov. 10 at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are general admission. Cost is $8 for students/seniors and $10 for adults. Ticket booth opens one hour prior to performance.

 

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