Loveland Stage Company production opens Friday, March 4.
By Chuck Gibson
LOVELAND, OH (February 23, 2022) – The Loveland Stage Company (LSC) will pull back the curtain on their production of the iconic “Hello Dolly” beginning Friday, March 4.
Performances will run weekends through March 20, with show times 7:30 Friday and Saturday evenings and 3:00 p.m. Sunday matinee. The cast of 20 is directed by Gregory Carl Smith, dance numbers (with some surprises) choreographed by Marjory Clegg, the outstanding vocals directed by Becky Jones, supported by the live orchestra under the direction of Jeanne Bilyeu, with costumes from a team of costumers guided by Donna Treinen all capably produced by Michael Kiser-Harris. It is truly a seasoned group of LSC players bringing to life a well-seasoned, fun and familiar musical comedy in “Hello Dolly”.
“It’s about a lady who likes to meddle,” said Kiser-Harris. “She loves meddling and she wants to put people with the right person for love including herself.”
That’s the producer’s brief on Dolly. In her travels, she runs across some couples who want to marry. It’s a kind of “farce” as the couples go through mishaps as she sets them up to marry. The LSC production promises to deliver “Dolly” the way past audiences would remember from Broadway productions, to the silver screen versions of days gone by. There could be some twists.
“Nothing too outlandish,” Kiser-Harris promised. “We are doing a fresher take on a few things; not following all the original choreography.”
Kiser-Harris referenced the original Broadway version with Carol Channing and the more recent Bette Midler versions talking about the original choreography. He says they remain true to the story, but there are a lot of stories about the directors from the past and their versions.
“Barbara Streisand did the movie,” he said. “It’s a pretty iconic show. A lot of people are very familiar with it. A cast of 20, so it’s a nice cast for us; plenty of dancing, plenty of song, a lot of things people will be familiar with even if they’re not familiar with the Broadway production.”
Choreographer Marjory Clegg is directing the dance numbers for this LSC cast. She is a Loveland Stage Company veteran. You can always count on her to add a little something special.
“Yes I did add a few things,” said Clegg. “The same thing has been done over and over again and I like to put my mark on it. I’ve put a tap number in the waiters gallop, some acrobatics; just because the waiters’ number is supposed to be crazy. I made it a little something crazy.”
Speaking of crazy, it’s been a little crazy for the costuming crew of Izy Jones, Alex Farmer, and Donna Treinen working without a lot of volunteers. It means they’re doing their own makeup, hair and costumes. Put aside the craziness and here’s what the audiences will see when the curtain opens revealing an 1890’s setting.
“The hats, the accessories, everything was very big, loud, outlandish and very ornate,” said Treinen. “They’re beautiful. Not ‘Gone With the Wind’, more Victorian – think like ‘Titanic’.”
Not at all like the outfits they were wearing during a rehearsal a little more than two weeks before Opening Night at the Loveland Stage Company Theater. Costumers are trying to stay true to the era. The producer and director are trying to stay true to the story and true to the musical numbers, but changes are inevitable with time. Kiser-Harris pointed to changes which have taken place over time even in the revivals. Some things just don’t translate from the mid-20th Century to today’s 21st Century language. For Kiser-Harris, it’s like putting a puzzle together.
“I love the puzzle problem-solving aspect of producing, directing, working behind the scenes,” said Kiser-Harris who has been on stage, backstage, and everywhere in between. “It’s the challenge . . . there are so many ducks you gotta get into a row. It’s actually a very fun challenge.”
Of course he admits there are moments when he just wants to bang his head against the wall a few times. When director Greg Smith asked him if he was interested, the prospect of producing appealed to him. Kiser-Harris says it has been over a year organizing scripts and music, but it has been fun.
“The sound, what they’ve produced, Becky Jones is our vocal director, what she has been able to get out of everybody is amazing,” he said. “The music, it’s a beautiful fun show. It’s an hour and twenty minutes you can just forget. . . you can enjoy two hours of meddling.”
Then there’s the cast beginning with Melinda Hubbard as Dolly. She’s worked with Kiser-Harris in the past including back when they did “Drowsy Chaperone” and “Cole” and was in the COVID-cancelled “Gypsy”. Melinda is a local mom with kids attending Loveland Schools and active with the Show Choirs there and she is Dolly.
“I’m Dolly, not Dolly Partin, not Dolly Madison,” joked Hubbard. “I guess Dolly is a master manipulator, constantly pulling the strings of every little thing. She’s controlling the scenes every which way.”
Hubbard sees Dolly as a little tired of doing that, getting by since her husband passed away.
“She wants a husband,” Hubbard explained. “Because back then, that’s how women got rest – she didn’t have to worry about income then, taking care of herself. She’s manipulated this whole thing. It’s her way of getting to a comfortable place.”
Hubbard tries to bring a warmth to a Dolly who some may see as a little bit cold and calculating. The character of Irene is supposed to marry Horace (played by Gary Glass) but Dolly kicks her aside with her sights set on marrying Horace.
“I think she has so much heart,” said Hubbard. “She really is a good person. That’s what I’m trying to bring to her. It’s in the delivery of the lines. I laugh a lot. That’s’ my personality. I can’t help it.”
Audiences will see that in Melinda Hubbard for sure as she finds those moments to reveal Dolly’s heart. When they’re doing the dancing, Dolly’s love for dancing will shine through. She feels like her favorite moment, the memorable moment for audiences will be when she shows up on that staircase. Watch for it. Gary Glass, as Horace will be someone to watch as well. He promises a little rough around the edges version of the leading man.
“I play him a little rougher around the edges,” said Glass. “He kind of has some money, but he doesn’t really have the sophistication. He’s supposed to be gruff, direct, impatient, in control, intolerant. He got old and became rich, friendless and mean.”
Glass says it works because in this cast, he may well be the oldest cast member. This is his third time on stage with LSC. This role is more of a speaking role with one song. He sings “Hello Dolly” in the end. The show is a long-time favorite of his. He’s seen it multiple times. He knows Horace.
“I try to play him a little more goofy,” Glass said. “You could play it just gruff angry the whole time. I try to put a little humor into it; kind of put a little vulnerability into him. Vulnerability gives it a little humor.”
Hubbard warms Dolly’s cold side. Glass brings vulnerability to Horace’s gruff side. Together they bring the laughs producer Michael Kiser-Harris says is as much a part of this show as the music, song and dance.
LOVELAND STAGE COMPANY PRESENTS: “Hello Dolly”
- March 4-20 Friday and Saturday 7:30 and Sunday 3:00 p.m. show times.
- On Stage: The LSC Theater-111 S 2nd St. (Rt 48)-Loveland, Ohio 45140-3026
- NOTE: For information regarding COVID requirements, please see Ticket link below.
- Tickets available now. Choose your seats. Special rates available for groups of 15 or more.
- Call 513-443-4572 www.lovelandstagecompany.org/tickets.