As Englewood High School actors polish their upcoming production of “Hello Dolly,” with book by Michael Stewart and music by Jerry Herman, they and director Dan Carlson look forward happily to a renovated theater for future productions.
The cheerful tale of Dolly Levi, based on Thornton Wilder's “The Matchmaker,” won 10 Tony Awards when it debuted on Broadway in 1964 and became the signature role for Carol Channing, who toured with it for years.
Senior Noelle Flores will portray Dolly in this production, with Scott Neff as Horace Vandergelder, the man she's targeted for herself.
She also tries to help along the romances of several other couples: Isaiah Harris is young Cornelius Hackl; Micah Scott plays Irene Molloy. Eric West is Barnaby Tucker and Kyrie Schroeder is his sweetie, Minnie Fay.
The ensemble numbers more than 20 additional singers and dancers, who are working with choreographer Jen Edwards, vocal director Garyn Saddler-Bello (it's her 15th musical at EHS) and band director Phil Emery, for whom this is a new experience.
Much of the action takes place in a big city restaurant, which includes a corps of nimble-footed waiters. Dolly and Horace and the two younger couples end up there—there are problems with the latter over how to pay for the meal …. The young men are awestruck by New York.
Stagecraft teacher Frank Stanek has built a 6-foot-high staircase for the set so Dolly can make her grand entrance to the title song, “Hello Dolly,” and there will be the hat-shop run by Irene Molloy.
“It's a young, inexperienced group, so we'll keep it simple so it will look cool,” Carlson said. Seventeen of the cast members are freshmen or younger (six are from Englewood Leadership Academy, which is housed in the building.)
Director Carlson has done lighting for four years at EHS and summer musicals since 1996. It's his 24th show in this auditorium. “The last time anyone other than Bill Ambron directed a musical here, I was 18 months old,” he said. (The legendary Jack Fisher came before Ambron.) “In the '80s, students came to EHS for theater training.
“I have to be my own person. I can't fill those shoes.”
He was hired by principal John Ford to begin rebuilding the theater department and has been teaching theater with another teacher this year. He is focused on convincing the kids they can have a high-caliber show, and hopes for more registrations next year and additional classes.
“It's a challenge to get uninvolved kids to come see it … Growing pains are hard, but hopefully things will get better …”
Englewood High School's theater shell will be kept, but renovations will include new seats, carpeting, curtains and lighting system. (“Lights that work and won't catch on fire!”)
Theater instructor Dan Carlson says the new dressing rooms will be ADA-accessible and there will be a ramp to the stage so it will also be accessible — and easier for the band to move instruments onto the stage when it's performing.
Seniors are bummed that they won't get to enjoy the new school, but younger students are excited.
Target date for moving into Phase I of the new school is December, when high school students and Englewood Leadership Academy will move. Then Phase II, the actual high school space, will be built with a target date of January 2015 for completion. At that point, middle school students will also be on this campus.
If you go
Englewood High School is at 3900 S. Logan St. Performances are at 7 p.m. on March 8 and 9. Tickets for “Hello Dolly” cost $7/$5 at the door; $6/$4 in advance. The reservation line is 303-806-7075.