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Sayville Middle School 'Hello Dolly' a Huge Success

Middle School production got a standing ovation each night.

Photo by Linda Mittiga/Sayville Schools.
Photo by Linda Mittiga/Sayville Schools.

Written by Linda Mittiga.

This year’s young talent in the Sayville Middle School ensemble cast delivered an amazing production of Hello Dolly, earning standing ovations each night.

Who couldn’t love Hello, Dolly!’s life-reaffirming story of ordinary people from Yonkers finding love on a magical day in New York City;  What’s not to love about Hello, Dolly! the musical, renowned for such memorable songs as It Takes a Woman, Ribbons Down My Back, Before the Parade Passes By, It Only Takes a Moment, and of course the theme song: Hello Dolly? Who can dispute that Dolly, a fabulous character, is also a lovably meddlesome matchmaker, who proves effortlessly resourceful and bewilderingly enterprising as she transforms the lives of everyone she meets? With her unquenchable thirst for life, Dolly Gallagher Levi herself is a survivor of a lost love.

Yet, there were no guarantees that audiences would accept, much less love, a middle school production—how can students between the ages of 11 and 14 capture its joie de vivre?

However, Sayville Middle School has had an exceptional reputation for pulling it off, and again, this year’s young talent in the Sayville Middle School ensemble cast delivered an amazing production of Hello, Dolly!, earning standing ovations each night.

  • Looking “swell” as Dolly, Olivia Anderson made the “room swayin'” as the leading lady with her magnificent charm, majestic composure, and mellifluous voice, sweetened by the honey of her smiles throughout the show. Olivia epitomized the lyrics: “glowin'... crowin'... goin' strong,” during her especially powerful performances of Before the Parade Passes By and Hello, Dolly!
  • Acting as the incorrigible Horace Vandergelder, James Velazquez delivered modulation and emphasis which, when enhanced by his wonderful singing (It Takes a Woman, Motherhood March) rendered a believably cranky half-millionaire looking for love.
  • Comedy team Luke Rosario and Jonathan Nolan as Vandergelders’s employees Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker (respectively) “played hooky” from work to  “have a good meal, spend all their money, see the stuffed whale in Barnum's museum, almost get arrested, and each kiss a girl.” Each seventh grader played his big part with amusing showmanship and expertise—their comic timing, whether performing solo, in tandem, or while singing (both sang in It Takes a Woman, Dancing, and Luke soloed It Only Takes a Moment ) enhanced every scene.
  • “Catching her gentleman’s eye,” dreamy Irene Malloy, owner of the millinery, was charmingly portrayed by a radiant Kate Donohue, giving audiences a special treat when she showcased her delicate voice in the solo Ribbons Down My Back.
  • A natural comedienne, Dea Ahlgrim, as a shop assistant Minnie Fay, was fresh, funny, and frolicsome in her lovely frocks and beautiful bonnet, acting the perfect foil for Barnaby (Jonathan Nolan).
  • Melina Piervencenti was comical and effective as the perpetually wailing Ermengarde whose tantrums as Vandergelder’s niece were mostly ineffective in getting what she wanted: to marry Ambrose Kemper.
  • Upon Dolly’s advice, struggling artist, Ambrose Kemper (played by a lively Harrison Bench) entered a polka competition at the upscale Harmonia Gardens so as to earn Vandergelder’s permission to marry his niece.
  • Sam LoGrippo’s sweeping performance revealed a memorable Ernestina Money, as a crass and unsophisticated golddigger.
  • Head Waiter Rudolph (brought to red-faced fury by the marvelous Richard Cotes) barked orders that had made the wait staff tremble.
  • Ancillary characters who filled out the cast included: Mrs. Rose (Amanda Wessels), Stanley (Alex Pitttari), Policeman (Dan Cliff), 1st Cook  (Zoe Rivera), 2nd Cook (Abigail Newman), Court Clerk (Adele Micelli) Judge (Moira Mahoney), Coachman (Reggie Elton), and especially the High School musicians who marched in the parade!

Serving as a spectacular backdrop were the intricately painted sets, the no-less dazzling costumes of the gorgeously attired ensemble cast, and the prancing dancers who as the waiters in the posh Harmonia Gardens, punctuated the comic interplay between lead performers with breathtaking acrobatics. 

Congratulations to Director Jeff Hoffman, Musical Director Fred Diekmann and Orchestra, Musical Director/Producer Kristi Woerner, Sound: Andrew Giammalvo, Lighting: Steve Hailey, Construction: Ken VanEssendelft, Artwork: Cora Sparwasser, Choreographers: Jillian Brudi & Jillian Dymek, Costumes: rented from Rebecca Wallis, as well as all the unsung production assistants, High School and parent volunteers, set designers, and crew.

Thanks to their hard work and creative energy, the 2013 Sayville Middle School production of Hello, Dolly!, which obviously took MORE than a moment to prepare, will surely be remembered and “loved a whole life long.”

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