by Lorie Lewis Ham
Hello, Dolly! opened at CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre this past weekend to large, enthusiastic crowds after a tremendous race against time the last week before opening, caused by the loss of their original Dolly. Clytee Ramsey came out of retirement to step in and fill the void as Dolly.
According to CenterStage Artistic Director Brent Moser, Hello, Dolly! is the story of Mrs. Dolly Levi’s efforts to marry Horace Vandergelder (played by George Akina), the well-known half-a-millionaire, and send his money circulating among the people like rainwater the way her late husband, Ephraim Levi, taught her. The show takes place in New York in 1890 and follows the antics of America’s most beloved matchmaker as she also matches up several other couples along the way. The musical is fill with memorable songs such as “Put On Your Sunday Clothes,” “Ribbons Down My Back,” “Before the Parade Passes By,” “Elegance, Hello, Dolly!,” “It Only Takes a Moment” and “So Long, Dearie.”
“Hello, Dolly! is an ebullient and irresistible story of the joy of living, glittering with happy songs, shining with loving scenes, alive with the personality of one of the most fabulous characters on the musical stage…Dolly Gallagher Levi!” continued Moser. “CenterStage chose Hello, Dolly! because it meets all the criteria for a CenterStage show. Wonderful music, script and character. A booming musical that is great for audiences of all ages. It is an all-time classic.”
Director and choreographer for the show, Greg Grannis, said that one unique thing about their production of this show is that they have kept in all of the dancing, something many productions don’t do. For one huge dance number in particular, “Waiters’ Gallup,” Grannis stated that most productions generally don’t have enough dancers that can pull it off. “Waiters’ Gallup” is a particularly difficult piece that Grannis was determined to keep. It has 22 dancing chefs and waiters doing some very complicated dance moves with tumbling cakes, cartwheels with mops and more. “They’ve worked really hard on it and are doing a great job!”
According to Grannis, something else unique in the Valley is that they are accompanied by a 30 plus piece orchestra. The orchestra is conducted by Pete Van Der Paardt and made up of adults and a few hand picked high school musicians.
After several weeks of hard work, nine rehearsals before opening night they lost their Dolly due to a family emergency. Grannis immediately called long time friend, retired actress Clytee Ramsey now living in Cayucos, who had played the role three times in the past. “I called her on Wednesday and the next day she was in rehearsal with us,” said Grannis.
After two nights Clytee was off book, and within four had the entire show down. She even came with her own Dolly dress, given to her after the last time she played Dolly when she retired. Several 12 hour rehearsals later Hello Dolly! opened. “Audiences love it. They get a standing ovation every night,” said Grannis. “She is the perfect Dolly. Very professional, warm, mothering and confident. A terrific lady.”
The cast of 50 hits the stage again for their final performances this Thursday, July 28 at the Mercedes Edwards Theatre at 902 5th Street in Clovis. Remaining show dates are July 28, 29, and 30 at 7:30 p.m. with one matinee at 2 p.m. July 30. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. Group rates are also available. They can be purchased at their website or by calling 323-8744.
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