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'Dolly!' a good match for DeSales choral talents

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Senior Katie Myers, 17 (center) sings as Dolly Levi during rehearsal for Hello, Dolly April 11. DeSales students present the classic Broadway musical at 7 p.m. Friday, April 19, at a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday, April 21 and at 7 p.m. April 26-27.JOSHUA A. BICKEL/THISWEEKNEWS
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Things have come full circle for Lori Arnett.

As a high school student, she appeared in a production of Hello, Dolly!

Now chairwoman of the performing arts department at St. Francis DeSales High School, Arnett is the director for a staging of the same venerable musical.

At least, Arnett thought it was venerable.

"I found it fascinating when I first announced the show back in the fall that most of them never heard of it," she said last week. "I was like, 'Really?' They had no idea.

"As I go through my teaching career, I find myself being dated yearly by what the kids don't know."

The spring show by the drama department at DeSales High School will be performed on the stage of the Little Theatre at 7 p.m. April 19, 26 and 27, with a 2 p.m. matinee April 21.

Tickets are $10.

"The show follows Mrs. Dolly Levi's adventures as she tries to marry the well-known 'half-a-millionaire,' Horace Vandergelder," said the school's community relations director, Karen Cofojohn.

"Dolly, played by senior Katie Myers, and Horace, played by freshman Jon Feverston, end up together in the end, but not until Dolly is successful in matching up several of the show's other characters: Irene Malloy (sophomore Meghan Springer) and Cornelius Hackl (sophomore Daniel Kelly), Barnaby Tucker (sophomore Coleman McKinney) and Minnie Fay (junior Sarah Schaber), and Ambrose Keeper (freshman Eric Myers) and Ermengarde (freshman Alexis Ankrom)."

"It's been a classic for many years," Arnett said last week. "I actually was in it in high school, so it's always been one of my favorites."

The Broadway hit, which had an original run from January 1964 to December 1970, was loosely based on Thornton Wilder's 1955 play The Matchmaker, which he, in turn, had based on his 1938 play, The Merchant of Yonkers.

Gene Kelly directed a 1969 film version, which starred Barbra Streisand and Walter Matthau. A snippet from the movie was featured in Pixar's 2008 animated hit, WALL-E.

Arnett said she selected the musical for a variety of reasons, not merely her familiarity with and love of the material.

"I wanted to challenge our students, which I think I definitely have," she said. "We have a lot of talent in our choral programs, and I wanted to showcase that."

Although totally unfamiliar with Hello, Dolly!, which is set in and around Yonkers and New York City in the late 19th century, Arnett said her performers are now in tune with the tunes of the musical.

"They have embraced it," she said. "The songs are such classic songs that they have embraced that. They are fascinated with the time period, the early 1900s. They don't know their lines, but they want to put on their costumes."

Rehearsals kicked into high gear recently, to help with that whole lines thing.

"We are in the midst of our 'doubles' now," the director said. "We're spending a great deal of time here at school trying to iron out the wrinkles.

"They've been working really hard on the production. We spend a lot of time together -- quality time, I might add.

"We still have a ways to go, but I am confident when we open it will be ready for everyone to see."

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