Hello, High School!
WHS presents a Broadway classic Thursday through Saturday
After three Broadway revivals, including a Tony Award for Best Musical, international success and a film garnering seven Academy Award nominations, “Hello, Dolly!” has made its way to the stage of Westfield High School for three evening performances Thursday through Saturday.
Leading the cast are seniors Anna Christianson and Steven Johnson. While the two are in the same grade, their backgrounds are quite diverse.
Christianson has been involved with all eight productions during her time at WHS.
“I’ve had fun the past four years. Theater is my life,” she said.
Christianson enjoys how stories are told differently in musicals than plays.
“I love the musical aspect. It tells the story and randomly breaks out in song,” she said.
In the show, Christianson plays the title character, Dolly Levi.
“I like how open she is – open about everything. She really likes to speak her mind,” she said. “I love the show in general. The music is really enjoyable.”
As one of the veteran actors, Christianson has been mentoring the show’s new performers.
“You want to raise them up. It’s different being on stage. You need to take the personality and make it huge. Seeing them come out of their shells is really cool,” she said.
“Hello, Dolly!” is Johnson’s first return to the stage since he was a middle school student.
“I did theater – never musicals – at Grace Community Church,” he said. “I knew I wanted to do one show before I left (high school). It’s my first time ever singing in front of people and dancing. It’s a challenge but a pretty fun one.”
Johnson said the hardest part of his four-year departure was “getting back into the groove” of being onstage.
“It’s a big transition with blocking and tech,” he said.
In the play, Johnson plays Horace Vandergelder – a role reversal from his daily personal.
“He’s a little mean and yells a lot,” he said. “Not that there’s a villain in the show, but it’s fun to play a villain.”
Both Christianson and Johnson agree that the best part of the show is its large cast and getting to know their fellow students.
“It’s a great way to meet brand new people in the school,” Johnson said.
Director Rhonda Adams selected “Hello, Dolly!” as the spring musical because of the characters and the musical talent within WHS.
“It has a lot of strong female roles, and we have a lot of strong female students this year,” she said. “Dolly is a strong female lead and Anna is doing a marvelous job.”
Adams said half of the cast was involved in the fall production of Thornton Wilder’s “The Skin of Our Teeth.” While the tech crew is the same, the final production of the year contains many seniors making their acting debut.
“It’s exciting when we have new students, and the audience enjoys seeing new faces,” Adams said. “It makes me wish I’d have worked with them since they were freshmen. They are an absolute joy – they are great kids, easy to work with.”
WHS’s production includes 30 onstage actors.
“It’s large but not difficult to work with (vocal director) Alison Wessel. We really help each other out and share the responsibility,” Adams said.
Making sure the actors look their best for the audience is the responsibility of costume manager Morgan Severeid.
“I love making the magic happen… The most exciting part is watching the work you’ve done and the work of the actors come together for an amazing performance,” the WHS sophomore said. “The audience doesn’t usually think where the costumes came from or how much time it takes to build a set.”
Severeid worked on the crew in the fall and is making her musical debut. She started in theater by volunteering at Footlight Theater in Indianapolis.
“I loved it, loved being there,” she said. “I’ve seen more shows side stage than the house.”
Severeid said some of the costumes for “Hello, Dolly!” were rented and others came from previous shows.
“I looked through the costume room for every piece that would work for the show,” Severeid said, adding some required alterations including making an entire costume. “I’ve had to tear apart a costume and put it back together to fit the person it was meant for.”
What: Hello, Dolly!
Where: Westfield High School auditorium, 18250 N. Union St.
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday
Tickets: $10 for adults and $7 for students. Tickets can be purchased at the door (which now accepts credit cards) or online at www.totalgatesolutions.com.
Cast: Anna Christianson, Dolly Levi; Steven Johnson, Horace Vandergelder; Kirsten Duff, Irene Molloy; Craig Thompson, Cornelius Hackl; Nathan Fauntleroy, Barnaby Tucker; Makensey Flood, Minnie Fay; Marcella Seibert, Earnestina Money; Mitchell Siefker, Stanley; Ian Wray, Ambrose Kemper; Katie Sinicki, Ermingarde; Jordyn Alexander, Mrs. Rose; Logan Boothe, Rudolf Reisenweber; and Wesley Crouch, judge.
Ensemble cast members include Kara Anderson, Sydnie Blair, Gabriella Brannock; Missena Briggs, Nick Caulfield, Ray Colbert, Ulises Gamez, Sara Jarvis, Esther Koss, Tolu Odimayomi, Victoria Pemberton, Jonny Robinson, Jaclyn Schillinger, Alexis Skelton, Cooper Tennent, Emily Welch and Wyatt Wells.
Crew: Emily deck, stage manager; Nate Conley, master carpenter; Dani Staley, lights; Nicole Kelmanson, rigging; Anna Bartley, prop master; Morgan Severeid, costume manager; Cassidy Smith, makeup manager; Abi Barley, scenic artist; and set crew members: Jeremy Tracey, Trey Hallett, Monica Burkett, Mallory Hicks, Lindsay Wren, Emily Jarvis, Andrea Igo, Abby Petrie, Alexis Derbique and Meredith Jarvis.
Directed by Rhonda Adams with assistance from Alison Wessel, vocal director, and Mark Sands, band director.