'Hello, Dolly!' makes matchmaking fun

Thursday, April 11, 2002

In Notre Dame Regional High School's production of "Hello, Dolly!" Liesl Schoenberger portrays someone who in the minds of the audience is both Carol Channing and Barbra Streisand, one impossible package. Dolly Levi is bigger than bigger than life.

Schoenberger is smart, is one of the best high school-age violin soloists in the United States and possesses a pleasing voice. But a show-stopping volubility is not inherent in her personality.

Wisely, she and director Cindy King have chosen to present a Dolly who is elegantly cunning instead of brassily conniving.

If she were a baseball pitcher, a commentator would call her sneaky fast.

Schoenberger charms without trying to and at moments, dressed in an array of spectacular gowns, radiates memorable images from the stage, like scenes from "Sunday in the Park with George."

The musical opens tonight at the high school cafeteria.

Based on the Thornton Wilder play "The Matchmaker," "Hello, Dolly!" follows the adventures of Dolly Levi, an arranger of marriages who also can show you how to reduce varicose veins.

The card that she seems to have for every occasion is one of the show's running jokes.

Dolly supposedly is arranging a marriage for the wealthy Horace Vandergelder, but she's the bride in her true matrimonial plans for him.

Talented cast

A talented cast supports Schoenberger. Blake Fisher is an appealing Cornelius, a man who sees his youth slipping away under the iron rule of his boss, Horace Vandergelder (Brad Bohannon). Bohannon hits the right notes as the ill-tempered Vandergelder.

Maggie Devaney as Irene Malloy is the picture of a young widow at the end of the 19th century, and her rendition of the lovely "Ribbons Down My Back" is one of the production's musical highlights.

The dances by the waiters and waitresses juggling trays at the restaurant, choreographed by Deana Pecord, are great fun.

The scene in Irene's hat shop, when she and Minnie (Casie Janet) and Dolly try to hide Cornelius and his sidekick Barnaby (Conor Mullarney) from Vandergelder, is one of the funniest and most successful in the production. Janet's fine voice is mostly wasted in the role, but she can act, too.

Ashtia Jewell is a standout as Ernestina, the brash supposed heiress Vandergelder disastrously courts at the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant.

Teresa Minor spends most of her time on stage weeping as Ermengarde, the niece Mr. Vandergelder wants to keep from Ambrose (Justin Moore).

Appearing in smaller roles are Matthew Long, Amy Buehrle, Josh Essner, Billy Dicus and Drew Willett.

Members of the ensemble are: Jessica Anderson, Bryanna Barrett, Libby Beussink, Jennifer Bjelich, Amy Bollinger, Amy Buehrle, Mary Catrino, Casey Cuba, Hannah Davis, Kate Devaney, William Dicus, Jacob Dufek, Joseph Dufek, Melissa Enderle, Rachael Essner, Josh Essner, Lauren Essner, Sarah Gosche, Stephanie Griffith, Jake Hency, Emily Ivers, Ashtia Jewell and Jennifer Kaelin.

Others in the ensemble are: Courtland Kohlfeld, Jenna Lane, Heather Lindsay, Matthew Long, Jonathan Long, Erin Mason, Sara Meystedt, Sarah Nenninger, John Ray, Ashley Reinagel, Lisa Roe, Alicia Sachse, Emily Scherer, Stacey Seyer, Keith Seyer, Justin Spaeth, Ashley Stewart, Layne Strattman, Andrew Strohmeyer, Paul Unterreiner, Sarah Unterreiner, Kelli Wille and Drew Willett.

The orchestra conducted by Jim Hindman includes Dr. Ben Goodier, Kathy Swan, John Quinn, Ann Welker, Narvol Randol, Rodney Carlson, Dr. Dan Cotner, Augustus Davis and Tim Cannon.

The vocal direction is by Ellen Seyer.

sblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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