Carrick Says “Hello Dolly”!

AIMS Award winner Irene Malone, who stars as Dolly Levi in Carrick-on-Suir Musical Society's 2015 production, 'Hello, Dolly'. | Photo: Dennis Barry

AIMS Award winner Irene Malone, who stars as Dolly Levi in Carrick-on-Suir Musical Society's 2015 production, 'Hello, Dolly'. | Photo: Dennis Barry

Strand Theatre to host Musical Society’s 104th production from Feb 27th to Mar 4th

How to follow up a critically acclaimed, audience loved and award-winning production? That was the question put to the Committee of Carrick-on-Suir Musical Society in the wake of last year’s production of ‘Evita’, which won four awards at last year’s AIMS Festival, including Best Overall Show.

Following months of deliberation, poring through script after script, the wise men and women of the Society doffed their hat towards to a show which itself isn’t short of hats and other headpieces – ‘Hello, Dolly’.

The brainchild of lyricist Jerry Herman, with the show’s book assembled by Michael Stewart, ‘Hello, Dolly’ is based on Thornton Wilder’s 1938 farce, ‘The Merchant of Yonkers’, later revised and re-titled by Wilder as ‘The Matchmaker’ in 1955.

First produced in Broadway by David Merrick in 1964, ‘Hello, Dolly’ claimed a record 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, topping the list of all-time Tony winners until 1999. The show proved a massive hit, as did the album recording, which topped the Billboard chart in 1964, only to be replaced a week later by Louis Armstrong’s ‘Hello, Dolly’ album.

In 1969, ‘Hello, Dolly’ arrived on the silver screen, directed by Gene Kelly, and starred Barbara Streisand, Walter Matthau and an early musical role for Michael Crawford, who would later gain global fame as the Phantom of the Opera. The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won three, including Best Score.

Last staged in Carrick-on-Suir in 1983, when Ann Doherty played the title role, ‘Hello, Dolly’ is set in 1890s New York City.

A matchmaker named Dolly Levi (Irene Malone) makes a trip to Yonkers, to see the “well-known, unmarried half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder (Fergus Power) to help him find a wife.

However, Dolly in fact sets the wheels in motion to land Horace herself, while also setting up two his store clerks with two lovely ladies in the Big Apple. And it’s all done with singing, dancing and more than a little laughter for the audience in the Dick Meany Auditorium to enjoy!

Directed by Liam Butler, choreographed by Patricia Woods and with Fergal O’Carroll once again in the pit as musical director, ‘Hello, Dolly’ also features Ray Nolan (Cornelius Hackl), Marie Kelly (Irene Molloy), Kate Sheehan (Minnie Fay), Caolán Deehy-Power (Barnaby Tucker), Cliodhna Nagle (Ermengarde), James Dooley (Ambrose Kemper), Fiona Hennessy (Ernestina) and Seamus Power (The Judge).

The long nights of choral rehearsal have once again been commandeered by Chorus Master Eamon O’Malley, and with Production Manager Martin Morrissey overseeing a host of largely unseen and unheralded work, the pieces have fallen into place well in recent weeks.

The indomitable Fergus Power as Horace Vandergelder.     | Photo: Dennis Barry

The indomitable Fergus Power as Horace Vandergelder. | Photo: Dennis Barry

With a cast numbering 40-plus putting in the hard yards with the same relish, dedication and professionalism as the principal cast, anything less than another fantastic week’s entertainment in the Strand Theatre would come as a surprise.

The 1982 production of ‘Hello, Dolly’ was a huge audience favourite, due in no small part to fantastic numbers including ‘Put On Your Sunday Clothes’, ‘Ribbons Down My Back’ and, of course ‘Hello, Dolly”.

And that positive audience appraisal was reflected in the show’s success at the 1982 AIMS Awards, when it won five awards, namely: Best Show with an all-amateur cast, Best Producer (Dick Meany), Best Lighting (Christy Butler), Best Set (Annette Meany) and Best Programme.

Bearing that in mind, reviving ‘Hello, Dolly’ in Carrick-on-Suir hasn’t come without some additional pressure, but Liam, Patricia and Eamon are renowned for extracting every performing inch of their casts and one expects nothing less this time around.

Long nights in rehearsal are not without their fun; levity is an essential requirement when managing such a large group of people giving up their spare time to tread the boards.

And as anyone familiar with rehearsals, be it for a play, pantomime or musical is aware of, fun is an essential component in keeping the cast a happy lot – and there’s never been a shortage of fun in Carrick in the months leading up to the big show!

Producing and staging the best possible show is part of Carrick Musical Society’s modus operandi.

Standards count for little unless they’re high and kept there, and, as the packed houses year after year and a foyer full of awards demonstrates, the blue riband is what Carrick has always aimed for. And long may that remain the case.

Booking for ‘Hello, Dolly’ opened on Monday last, February 9th at the Strand Theatre (051-645050) and early sales have been most promising, boding well for what one hopes shall prove a sell-out week, just as ‘Evita’ provided 12 months ago. Break a leg, one and all!

You’re still glowin’, you’re still crowin’, you’re still goin’ strong.

Dermot Keyes

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