(Posted March 9, 2023)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Forget serious. London City Schools’ choice for a spring musical is all about fun.
Forty-one student-actors will present “Hello, Dolly!” March 17-19 in London High School’s Joyce Hildebrand Theater.
“It’s a funny show and not one that is frequently done. I have wanted to do it for years,” said Jessi Dunham, who is making her debut as director.
Dunham headed up music for the high school’s musicals for eight years. This year, Scott Blanton, director for many years, turned over the reins.
“It’s definitely been a learning curve for me, taking on new tasks I haven’t helped with before,” Dunham said. “I’ve had a lot of help from parents and the school in making this happen. We’re very excited. The ultimate goal is for the kids to have a fun time and a good experience, and we hope the community comes out to see it.”
The cast includes not only high schoolers but 11 middle schoolers, too. The middle school hasn’t staged its own musical in years. Dunham wanted to give the younger students an opportunity to perform.
The show’s plot centers around its namesake, Dolly Levi, a widow and matchmaker who schemes to pair off several of the show’s characters and ends up with a husband herself. Julianna Dunkley, a junior and veteran of the theater, plays Dolly and, according to Dunham, has embraced the role.
Junior Josh Lickliter plays Horace Vendergelder, a shop owner who tries to use Dolly’s service to find a wife, but what he really wants is a housekeeper. Horace goes back and forth between being demanding and being befuddled about what’s going on around him.
Senior Sam Homan is having a blast with the showy role of Rudolph, who calls himself the supreme commander of the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant and leads the waiters through a series of stunts.
Senior Evie Gillilan is acing the difficult singing parts that come with portraying shop owner Irene Molloy. Her character is paired with Cornelius Hackl, Horace’s shop assistant, played by sophomore Isaiah Cappell. Cornelius performs one of the show’s iconic songs, “Put On Your Sunday Clothes.”
Senior Kyleigh Wilson is putting her dancing skills to work as Minnie Fay, Irene’s shop assistant. Her character is paired with Barnaby Tucker, another one of Horace’s shop assistants, played by junior Will Kerry.
“(Those two couples) do a great number at the beginning of Act 2 where they put on airs like they are richer and fancier than they are,” Dunham said.
In another standout number, the waiters sing “Hello, Dolly!” as Dolly makes her way down the grand staircase. Cornelius and Irene offer one of the few serious moments in the show when they sing “It Only Takes a Moment.” Toward the end of the show, Dolly’s big number features the song, “So Long, Deary.”
Behind the scenes, Patrick Dunkley designed and headed up construction of the enormous set. As choreographer, Danielle Fredette pulled together all of the dance routines, including a polka.
Show times are 7 p.m. March 17-18 and 2 p.m. March 19. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and can be purchased at the door or online (visit the London City Schools Facebook page to scan a QR code).
London High School is located at 336 Elm St.