THE Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company are putting on their Sunday best from tonight until Saturday in Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart’s Broadway classic Hello, Dolly!.
This 1964 musical adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s 1938 farce The Merchant Of Yonkers will be staged by the JoRo’s in-house fundraising company with glitz, glamour and a troupe of tap-dancing waiters in their most ambitious performance to date.
Noted for such musical theatre favourites as It Only Takes A Moment, Put On Your Sunday Clothes and the title song, Hello, Dolly! follows strong-willed widow and self-proclaimed meddling matchmaker Dolly Levi in her wooing of wealthy but tight-fisted Horace Vandergelder, while she spreads joy and confusion among everyone she encounters in 1885 New York.
Premiering on Broadway on January 16 1964 with Carol Channing in the title role, Stewart and Herman’s show played for 2,844 performances, making it – at the time – the longest-running Broadway musical in history.
The show has been revived several times on the New York stage, most recently in 2017 with Bette Midler in the title role, while Barbra Streisand famously starred in Gene Kelly’s 1969 film version.
Playing Dolly for the Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company (JRTC) will be Helen Spencer, a regular in the company’s shows and on the wider York theatre scene, who works as a psychiatrist in the NHS.
Hello, Dolly! will be even more special for her, beyond the lead role, because she will be sharing the stage with her two children in their first theatrical performance.
This will be JRTC’s fifth full-scale production, following on from their flash, bang, walloping hit Kipps: The New Half A Sixpence Musical last February, with a continuing focus on producing high-quality, low-budget productions to maximise profits to give every penny straight back to the JoRo.
Taking the reins this time is Kathryn Lay, who steps off the stage to make her JRTC directing debut, alongside her husband Martin Lay as musical director. Both have been performing with the company since its inception in 2017.
“Hello, Dolly! perfectly showcases the company’s diverse and talented members,” says Kathryn. “There’s a large ensemble, which has allowed us to embrace our inclusive ethos, and the variation in roles really plays to everyone’s strengths. It’s a feel-good musical and the cast and creative team are having a wonderful time bringing it to life.
“The Joseph Rowntree Theatre is such a valuable asset for the York community, helping make theatre accessible for wider audiences. So, as well as being treated to a wonderful evening of entertainment, you’ll also be supporting a great cause and helping to play a part in keeping theatre alive in York.”
Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company, Hello, Dolly!, at Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, February 8 to 11, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee.Tickets: £15, under 18s, £13, on 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.
Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company’s cast for Hello, Dolly!
Dolly Levi: Helen Spencer
Horace Vandergelder: Alex Schofield
Cornelius Hackl: Stuart Sellens
Irene Molloy: Jennie Wogan-Wells
Barnaby Tucker: Jamie Benson
Minnie Fay: Jennifer Jones
Ambrose Kemper: Jonothan Wells
Ermengarde: Abigail Atkinson
Ernestina: Sophie Cooke
Rudolph: Nick Sephton
Mrs Rose/Ensemble: Vanessa Lee
Judge/Manny/Ensemble: Ben Huntley
Clerk/Ensemble: Lois Cross
Louis/Ensemble: Cameron O’Bryne
Harry/Ensemble: Gary Bateson
Hank/Ensemble: Jack James Fry
Ensemble: Michelle Atkinson; Helen Barugh; Victoria Beale; Pamela Bradley; Ashley Ginter; Lorna Newby; Jennifer Payne; Susanne Perkins; Zoe Sellens; Heather Stead and Jane Woolgar
Director: Kathryn Lay
Musical director: Martin Lay
Assistant director/choreographer: Lorna Newby
Assistant director: Rosy Rowley
Producer: Stuart Sellens