‘Dolly’ is a grand dame

Rochester / musical

By Tom Weber

It wouldn’t be gentlemanly to call Dolly an old war-horse, so Greg Miller chose his words more carefully.

"This is one of the granddaddies of all musicals," said Miller, who is directing the Rochester Civic Theatre’s production of "Hello Dolly," which opens March 20.


The popular show, which seemed to run forever on Broadway, and then was a hit movie, has it all, according to Miller. "It’s got great costumes, great songs, great sets," he said.

On top of that, the play hasn’t been produced by RCT since the 1970s — a long absence from the local stage for one of the most popular musicals of all time.

Miller said there’s no mystery to the popularity of "Hello Dolly."

"It’s a goofy comedy with fun characters and happy songs," he said. "It’s all about happy stuff, although there are some touching moments."

"Hello Dolly," based on Thornton Wilder’s "The Matchmaker," was written by Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart and debuted on Broadway in 1964. It tells the story of Dolly Levi, a matchmaker who finds a match for everyone but herself. The original Broadway production became the longest-running musical in Broadway history. It was made into a movie in 1969 starring Barbra Streisand and Walter Matthau.

For the RCT production, Miller has assembled a cast of 17, led by Laurie Helmers as Dolly, with John Wallin, Scott Schwark and Audrey Rinkoski in other major roles.

The large cast presents challenges. "They barely all fit on stage," Miller said. "With the big hats, bit sets, it becomes a task moving people around in costumes they’re not used to wearing."

But those who love grand old musicals wouldn’t have it any other way.


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If you go

What: "Hello Dolly"

When: Opens at 8 p.m. March 20. Then at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sunday through April 19. No performance on April 12.

Where: Rochester Civic Theatre, 20 Civic Center Drive S.E.

Tickets: $22 adults, $19 senior citizens, $12 students. 282-8481.

"Hello Dolly"

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