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“HELLO DOLLY” AT THE OPERA HOUSE

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By Ken Begley

 

“I’ve worked hard and I’ve become rich and friendless and mean. In America, that’s about as far as you can go.”

Horace Vandergelder

 

If you love “quick wit,” then you have to see “Hello Dolly,” which is currently being performed by the Youth Actors of the Central Kentucky Community Theatre at the Opera House in Springfield. 

It’s a hoot that will make you laugh out loud and forget your troubles for a while.

You might remember the award-winning movie, which was a film adaptation of the beloved Broadway musical. It starred Walter Matthau as “Horace Vandergelder” and Barbara Streisand as “Dolly Levi.”

The timeline is around the 1890’s. The plot involves a matchmaker named Dolly Levi who takes a trip to Yonkers, N.Y. to see the “well-known, unmarried half-a-millionaire,” Horace Vandergelder.

Matchmaker Dolly likes to merrily arrange things... like furniture and daffodils and lives... Mr. Vandergelder is a gruff old widower that has hired Dolly to find him a wife. Unknown to Horace, Dolly, who is also a widow, has decided that she is going to take him for herself. Well ,old Horace is having none of it. 

Dolly proceeds in the course of the story to weave a web of romantic complications involving Horace, his two clerks Cornelius and Barnaby, a pretty hat maker named Irene Molly and her assistant Minnie Fay. Eventually, of course, all is sorted out, and everyone ends up with the right person.

There are now some 60 local Youth Actors in the Central Kentucky Theatre program, so the roles are sometimes shared and played by different individuals at different performances.

Sara Thompson played the very demanding lead role of Dolly for the performance that I saw. This was Sara’s first time being the focal point for an entire play. She proved she was up to the challenge, belting out several of the Broadway musical numbers including the well-known theme of “Hello Dolly,” which was sung by Streisand and Louie Armstrong in the movie. In addition, her comic timing, facial expressions, and body language all mirrored Barbara from the movie.

Alex Mattingly, a high school senior and veteran of many local theater productions, played Horace. Alex really surprised me. His posturing as the self-righteous Mr. Vandergelder was pricelessly funny. Another surprise was that I’ve seen Alex in many different plays, but didn’t know he could sing so well.

There were several other performers playing leads for the first time, including Katya Melgoza and Paul Shelton in the play I saw. This was the first show for Emily Ford, Kayla Jacobs and Katelyn Wyman.

My one question from the play is, “Who is Haberlin Roberts?” 

Miss Roberts is living proof with her role of Ernestina Money that there are no small parts in a play and one person can unexpectedly steal a moment in the spotlight.

Dolly decides to hook Mr. Vandergelder up with Miss Ernestina Money as a purposely ill-suited match to make herself look more attractive as an alternative.

Ernestina Money is a rich but 1890’s version of an extremely wild woman. The scene with the straight- laced Horace at the fancy restaurant is without a doubt the funniest part of the whole play, though it doesn’t really take up more than a couple of minutes.

You have to see Alex playing the embarrassed Horace trying to make sure no one sees him with Haberlin’s Miss Money.

Miss Roberts delivers her lines and plays her part with such skill that I’m sure the directors Jan and Scott Fattizzi will be utilizing her talents much more in prominent roles for the future.

I have a side note here.

KET, Kentucky Educational Television, has decided to do a piece on our Central Kentucky Theatre program here in Washington County and it will be aired this fall. 

Several of our local actors, including Catharine Ball, Wesley Campbell, and Aaron Robinson, were interviewed for the program. It seems that this long-running theatre program by Jan and Scott Fattizzi had come to their attention as one of the more successful tools for developing our youth and providing a viable tool for economic development of our small community.

That’s something you don’t hear of happening everyday, is it?

Well done by all involved.

It’s just one more asset we have that makes Washington County one of the nicest places to live in our state.

(Writer’s Note:  Hello Dolly will play at the Opera House June 8 and 9 at 7 p.m and June 10 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available one hour before show time at the Opera House doors. Other ticketing agents include Springfield State Bank, Farmer’s National Bank of Lebanon or online at http://www.centralkytheatre.com, or call at 859-336-5412, ext. 4.)