NEW PALESTINE — Anna Carrie stood stage right while Kyrel Patterson was stage left. When they heard their cue from the music playing on the piano, they both took off running, then leaped into the air with serving trays while trying to avoid crashing into each other.
The New Palestine High School students were hard at work rehearsing for the upcoming performance of the 1964 classic Broadway musical, “Hello Dolly!”
The school’s drama group is putting on the legendary song and dance comedy this coming weekend with two 7 p.m. performances Nov. 11 and Nov. 12 and a 2 p.m. matinee Nov. 13. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students, with all proceeds going back into the performing arts budget.
Seniors Clay Brown and Melissa Anness have the lead roles, playing Horace Vandergelder, a gruff millionaire, and Dolly Levi, a meddling match-maker.
“Hello Dolly!” is a well-known Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, which was later turned into a three-time Academy Award-winning movie with singer/performer Barbara Streisand, but for many of the high school students, it’s brand new.
“I’d never heard of it,” Brown said with a sheepish grin.
He has since done his research and watched the movie to get a better feel for the grumpy lead role character he gets to play.
Brown loves to play the antagonist, he said, and is thrilled to have a love interest at the end of the show with Dolly, played by Anness.
She’s hoping the major role in this musical will lead to positive things in the future and has a long term goal to get into the performing arts.
“If everything works out well, I’ll get the chance to play a lot more roles like this,” she said.
Unlike Brown, Anness was familiar with the musical and knew what she was getting into when she signed up to be in the show. She’d seen it on stage several years ago, and she was excited to get such a challenging role, including getting the chance to play a character with humor.
“I find myself acting in my real life more and more like Dolly each day,” she said. “She’s just hilarious.”
The show offers much more singing and dancing than past musical performances, the actors said, but that’s part of the challenge and why they think the audience will enjoy it.
Each fall Steve Beebe, musical director, looks for a show fitting of the talent he has to put on the stage, he said.
“I try to pick a show where I know I have the right kids to do it, ones who can pull off the roles,” he said.
That includes making sure the students can handle not only the acting lines, but the singing and dancing that comes with “Hello Dolly!”
It’s proved to be a bit challenging, Beebe said, because the show is a turn-of-the-century piece written for professional dancers.
“The type of dancing my students can do is not the same like with trained, legitimate dancers,” Beebe said.
It will be difficult finding all the proper costumes for the time period, too, Beebe said.
Still, he and the cast feel like the audience will love the show being performed by its 35 cast and crew members.
Sophomore Brea Philgster is part of the school’s show choir, but took a behind-the-scenes role for this performance as part of the crew working on the set.
“We’ve been working really hard to get it all together,” she said. “It’s a slow process, but it’s coming together and is going to be really good.”