There’s plenty of tight choreography, show-stopping musical performances and outrageous physical comedy to witness in this year’s Youth Theatre of Hardin County summer production, if you can keep up.
The theater will be bringing the fast-paced 1964 Broadway musical classic “Hello, Dolly!” to the Hardin County Schools Performing Arts Center stage this weekend.
Written by Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart, the musical follows the adventures of Dolly Gallagher-Levi, a turn-of-the-century matchmaker who tries to find a love interest for the stubborn and wealthy Horace Vandergelder of New York City.
Upon reviewing the script in preparation for the production, Director Aaron Taylor said he saw many opportunities for big, physical comedy bits. He said he soon began to see parallels to sitcoms such as “Cheers” and “Three’s Company.”
“It all just kind of read to me like the sitcoms of the ’70s and ’80s,” Taylor said.
For that reason, Taylor said a great deal of consideration was put into the boldness of those auditioning when it came to casting decisions.
“The characters in this are big and broad,” he said. “It’s not necessarily over-the-top but they’re big archetype kind of characters. So, you’re looking for somebody who makes big, bold choices and will put it out there.”
A cast of more than 40 actors will take part in this year’s production. Youth theater previously produced the show in 2003 and in 1988.
Choreographer Carol Zagar, who also will be playing oboe in the production’s orchestra, did choreography for the 2003 production. Although challenges with spacing can come with such a large cast, Zagar said she is confident the cast will pull off the show’s big numbers such as “Before The Parade Passes By” and the titular song “Hello, Dolly!”
“It will be a professional production,” Zagar said. “We won’t put the kids on the stage if they don’t know what they’re doing.”
Musical director Kimberly Strange was an actor in the 2003 production. She said revisiting the musical has been an interesting process after years of experience in music and theater.
Strange said the music came back to her quite naturally.
“Once I heard the songs again, it was like ‘oh, right,’” she said.
Although the script’s wording has not been modified, Taylor said a few physical comedy bits have been added. He said he even started adding spit takes to the script and held a miniature workshop for those who were unfamiliar with the technique.
“I was like ‘alright, everybody get a bottle of water,’” he said.
Parker Thompson, who plays Barnaby Tucker, said it has been fun to mix slapstick comedy with old-school musical numbers.
“This one has been really cool to see all the comedy with the old-fashioned clothes,” he said.
“Hello, Dolly!” performances are at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, along with performances at 7 p.m. July 18 through 20 at The PAC, which is on the campus of John Hardin High School.
Tickets cost $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, students and those in the military and $5 for children 10 and younger. Tickets can be purchased at www.ythcky.org.