Before saying goodbye for the season, Tulane Summer Lyric will say hello one last time with “Hello, Dolly!” on stage from July 30 to Aug. 2.
Based on the Thornton Wilder play “The Matchmaker” and using music by Jerry Herman, “Hello, Dolly!” follows the self-proclaimed “professional meddler” Dolly Levi. Spending years as a widow and finding mates for others, Dolly finally decides that it’s time for her to make a match for herself.
“This is the turn of the century, and her only skills are social and domestic. At the start of the play, she’s getting tired of living in this state of suspense and not really living at all,” said Liz Argus, the actress portraying Dolly. “Her job as a matchmaker means she arranges and chaperones meetings; now it’s time for her to find a match for herself, and she’s chosen a tough nut to crack.”
The “tough nut” is widower Horace Vandergelder, a gruff multimillionaire who is unaware that while he is Dolly’s client, she’s the one who has her eyes set on him. “(Our) Horace is played by Bob Edes Jr., who is one of the best actors in the city,” said director Diane Lala. “It’s a huge treat to work with him. He’s a great actor and a great person. He’s great at playing the old curmudgeon with a heart of gold.”
“By the end of the play, Dolly has genuine affection for Horace,” Argus added. “That’s pretty easy for me because it’s not hard to adore Bob Edes (Jr.). I’m pretty lucky to be working with him.”
Argus and Lala are no strangers to Tulane’s Summer Lyric program. Each has a number of shows and years of experience under her belt. “I’ve been with Summer Lyric for a really long time,” said Lala. “Steadily worked there over the last 15 years.” Argus added, “This year marks the 30th anniversary of my work as a performer.”
As veterans of Summer Lyric, both women are grateful to be working on such a classic.
“I’m always so thankful that Summer Lyric asks to do old musicals because there’s always something for the audience to think about and enjoy,” said Lala.
“People will appreciate the wonderful score, and the dialogue, which is smart and quick. Audiences should find the joy in it, and not think of it as one of those old musicals. It’s timeless.”
For Argus, this appreciation goes a bit deeper.
“Even though there are some old-fashioned references in the script, some of the ideas within the plot are very timely,” she said. “There’s specific mention of money, and the differences between having a little money and a lot of it. It’s a very timely soliloquy. We think we’re so sophisticated now, but the problems we have are the same ones our great-grandparents had to deal with.”
However, “Dolly” remains comedic and full of show-stopping musical numbers.
“It’s going to be a fabulous production,” Lala said. “Summer Lyric has a way of doing big, splashy musicals with a live orchestra. We’re going to do ‘Dolly’ up right!”
“The audience can expect a phenomenal orchestra,” added Argus. “Wait till you hear ‘Put on Your Sunday Best’! I’m not even sure the audience will be able to sit! And that’s not even the first act finale number!”
“Dolly” boasts the combined talents of both Lala’s directing and choreography by Jauné Buisson. “Diane’s a terrific director,” said Argus. “She’ll sketch things out, but she’ll allow the show to breathe and take its own life. I trust her implicitly. In her hands, I’ll never land with mud on my face.”
Shows are at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, July 30 through Aug. 1, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2. Tickets are $30 to$40 and can be purchased either by phone or online.
For more information, contact Charlie Farve Hayes at (504) 865-5271.