Staples’ “Dolly” Lookin’ Swell

Fifty years ago, Hello, Dolly! debuted on Broadway. It danced and sang its memorable way to become — for a while — the longest-running show in history.

In 1985, Al Pia directed Dolly! with Staples Players. David Roth — who as an 8th grader in Illinois played Cornelius — reprised it in 2002, his 3rd year as Players director.

Now, the show is back. Hello, Dolly! opens on the Staples High School stage next Friday (November 14). It runs that weekend and next.

A small part of the large cast sings "It Takes a Woman." (Photo/Kerry Long)

A small part of the large cast sings “It Takes a Woman.” (Photo/Kerry Long)

Like many Players productions, this one melds elements of old and new. Dorian Kail — Dolly in 1985 — will sit proudly in the auditorium. Her son, Jacob Leaf, plays Rudolph this time around.

The cast and crew learned a lot about the Broadway versions from 2 fantastic sources. Sondra Lee (who originated the role of Minnie Fay) and Lee Roy Reams (Cornelius in the 1st Broadway revival, and the director of subsequent revivals) — both visited the set last month.

“We wanted to go back to a classic, and do something accessible to families,” Roth says of his selection.

“I love the comedy. This show is truly a farce — one of my favorite types of show to direct. ”

Roth — who grew up listening to the soundtrack — loves the music, the script, even the pacing.

He, co-director Kerry Long, set designer Peter DiFranco and costume designers Marjorie Watt and Priscilla Stampa, have pulled out all the stops.

Costumes and sets complement Jack Bowman, Claire Smith and Jack Baylis as they sing "Dancing." (Photo/Kerry Long)

Costumes and sets complement Jack Bowman, Claire Smith and Jack Baylis as they sing “Dancing.” (Photo/Kerry Long)

“The sets and costumes are really outstanding,” Roth says. “Every scene is beautiful. This is a candy-colored storybook — a fantasy version of a time gone by.”

The director also appreciates the choreography — which is dazzlingly complex.

In 2002, Roth did not have enough male dancers. So a number of girls dressed as male waiters.

This year, they’re all guys.

It’s so nice to have them back where they belong.

(“Hello, Dolly!” is performed on Friday and Saturday, November 14, 15, 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, November 16 at 3 p.m. An extra matinee has been added for Saturday, November 22 at 3 p.m. For tickets — including the pre-show gala on opening night — click www.StaplesPlayers.com.) 

One response to “Staples’ “Dolly” Lookin’ Swell

  1. Sharon Paulsen

    I performed in the pit orchestra for that 1985 production. Great memories!!