FSLT to Host ‘BIG’ Production of Classic Musical, ‘Hello, Dolly!’ – The Free Weekly

FSLT to Host ‘BIG’ Production of Classic Musical, ‘Hello, Dolly!’ – The Free Weekly

FSLT to Host ‘BIG’ Production of Classic Musical, ‘Hello, Dolly!’ – The Free Weekly

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The poster may say “Fort Smith Little Theatre,” but director Shannon Stoddard promises the summer musical will be “BIG.”

“Hello, Dolly!”, which opens July 18, features a cast of 26 who have been rehearsing since May 16; a crew of eight; a creative team of 10; and about 40 volunteers who created dozens of high-style 1890s costumes and built sets appropriate for early 20th-century New York.

“It really takes an army to put this show together,” says Stoddard.

The auditions were held on May 13th and 14th and the cast rehearsed only the music until June 10th. Blocking and choreography were then added and set changes became part of the rehearsals on July 1st. These rehearsals last a minimum of two hours each evening, Monday through Friday.

Stoddard credits Janet Renwick for costume design (all done by FSLT, not hired); Gary Cameron for set design; Lora Rice and Lawanda Jones for backgrounds; and “I have to mention Brandon Bolin, who’s been an incredible music director.

“This music is A LOT, and he learned it with such ease,” she marvels. “Just wait until you hear this cast sing! The musical numbers are MASSIVE and have such great harmonies!

“’It Takes a Woman’ with Horace and our male ensemble puts a smile on my face every night they rehearse,” she says, “but I also love the title song, ‘Hello, Dolly!’ and ‘Put On Your Sunday Clothes’ because they are such fun big numbers that involve the whole ensemble.”

Lead actress Jane Ann Short, who plays professional matchmaker Dolly Levi, expects the audience to sing along to all of these songs, and one more.

“’Before the Parade Passes By’ has always been a rallying cry for a lot of people, especially women, I think,” she says.

“Dolly is a red-headed fireball who likes to meddle — and she makes no secret of it,” Short says of her character. “But underneath the meddling, she has a heart of gold and wants everyone to be in love and happy. I admire Dolly and her ability to make things happen. And I appreciate the fireball part, too — maybe because I’ve been called that a few times in my life. I sincerely hope I can do Dolly justice.”

“For me, this show is about having an adventure,” says Barry Law, who plays the object of Dolly’s desires, Horace Vandergelder. “It’s just as important now as it was 60 years ago to step out of your normal life and have an adventure.”

Law says his character describes himself as “rich, friendless and mean, but at heart he’s an old softie. A lot of middle-aged men seem to have built up a hard shell around themselves. But when someone like Dolly Levi comes along, their perspective changes.”

Stoddard emphasizes that Dolly and Horace’s love story is not the only one.

“‘Hello, Dolly’ is essentially a love story,” she says. “Throughout the show, we see four different couples experiencing love in different ways.”

And they do it all singing and dancing.

“For me, the biggest challenge on this show was the dancing,” says Rebekah Nickell, who plays Irene Molloy, also in line for Vandergelder’s affections. “Luckily, we have amazing choreography from Ellie Caruthers and Allie Gooden! They make me look a little bit better.”

“Learning all the dances was challenging, but so rewarding,” says Casey Cowan, in his first show at FSLT as Cornelius. “It’s an absolute blast learning choreography, working through it, and coming out the other side with something that’s satisfying and artistic.”

“The biggest reward is seeing everyone having fun and working so hard that everything falls into place and you know this is going to be a great, exciting show,” Short concludes.



“Hello, Dolly!”

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. July 18-20; 2:00 p.m. July 21; again July 24-28 and August 1-3

WHERE — Fort Smith Little Theatre, 401 N. Sixth St. in Fort Smith

COST — $25 opening night; $20 all other performances; half price for children on July 25 and August 1

INFO — or 783-2966