Backstage at Galveston Island Outdoor Musicals during Hello Dolly with fellow chorus member, Lana Olsen back in 1986.

Hello, “Dolly” !

As recitals retreat, rehearsals rev up for Youth Theatre and their summer production of Hello, Dolly!  “Dolly” holds a special place in my heart because it was one of the first professional productions in which I was ever cast.

Way back in the summer of 1986, I was hired as a chorus member down in Galveston Island, Texas for the outdoor drama The Lone Star (the official play of Texas) and their second show Hello, Dolly!.  We performed under the stars every night for three months on a stage twice the size of Stephen Foster’s.  And there in the middle of it all was our star – Marilyn Maye.  Who? you may ask.  Marilyn Maye is a world renowned jazz singer.  She sang on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson on 76 occasions – more than any other singer – and Ella Fitzgerald referred to her as “the greatest white female singer in the world” and on top of all that she could hold her own in a kick line and deliver a punch line to the back row of that ginormous amphitheater week after week in over 90 degree weather.  And yes, she is still performing.  Just last month, she performed her one-woman cabaret show for two weeks at Feinstein’s in Manhattan at the age of 91!

Last week, I lucked into tickets to see Broadway legend Betty Buckley as “Dolly” at the Kentucky Center.  She may not have been MY “Dolly” but she was a delight and the whole production was so well executed that I found myself smiling and crying simultaneously on several occasions at both the sheer brilliance of her performance (and everyone else’s!) and also the flood of memories the show brought back of all those long hot Texas nights over thirty years ago.

Now, in just a little over a month, I’ll be seeing Youth Theatre’s take on this classic.  And when I do, I won’t be alone.  In my mind, Marilyn Mae will be seated on my left and Betty Buckley on my right, and we’ll all three be thinking, “Hello, Dolly!  Show us what you’ve got!”

Click to purchase tickets to Youth Theatre’s performances of Hello Dolly

Click to learn more about Marilyn Mae

Click to learn more about Betty Buckley and the current Broadway tour

Benjamin Shockley as “Mr. Banks” in Allegro Dance Theatre’s production of Mary Poppins Jr. from earlier this spring

This month the PAC Kid Spotlight shines on Central Hardin High School student Benjamin Shockley.  Ben is busy rehearsing for his performance next month as “Horace Vandergelder” in Youth Theatre’s production of Hello Dolly!  Learn more about Ben and our other PAC Kids.