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Hello, Dolly! from Frome Musical Theatre Company

READERS have been asking members of the Frome Musical Theatre Company what their forthcoming show, Hello Dolly, is all about.

So here is a brief synopsis along with a few pre-show publicity photographs to whet your appetite for this feel-good musical.

In 1890, all of New York City is excited because widowed, brassy Dolly Levi, played by Jo Plenty, is in town. Dolly makes a living through matchmaking and numerous sidelines. She is currently seeking a wife for grumpy Horace Vandergelder, played by Andrew Carpenter, the well-known “half-a-millionaire”, but it becomes clear that Dolly intends to marry Horace herself.

Dolly travels to Yonkers, New York, to visit Horace. Ambrose Kemper, played by Matt Graham, a young artist, wants to marry Horace’s weepy niece, Ermengarde, played by Abi Holmes, but Horace opposes this because Ambrose’s vocation does not guarantee a steady living.

Horace, who is the owner of Vandergelder’s Hay and Feed, explains to his two clerks, Cornelius Hackl, played by Davey Evans, and Barnaby Tucker, played by Ryan Hughes, that he is going to get married because “It Takes a Woman” to cheerfully do all the household chores.

He plans to travel to New York City to propose to Irene Molloy, played by Teresa Bray, who owns a hat shop there. Dolly arrives in Yonkers and sends Horace ahead to the city. Before leaving he tells Cornelius and Barnaby to mind the store.

Cornelius decides that he and Barnaby need to get out of Yonkers. Dolly knows two ladies in New York they should call on: Irene Molloy and her shop assistant, Minnie Fay, played by Nicole Wooldridge. She enters Ermengarde and Ambrose in the upcoming polka competition at the fancy Harmonia Gardens Restaurant in New York City, so Ambrose can demonstrate his ability to be a bread winner to Uncle Horace.

Cornelius, Barnaby, Ambrose, Ermengarde and Dolly take the train to New York. Irene and Minnie open their hat shop for the afternoon. Irene does not love Horace Vandergelder and declares that she will wear an elaborate hat to impress a gentleman.

Cornelius and Barnaby arrive at the shop and pretend to be rich. Horace and Dolly arrive and Cornelius and Barnaby hide. Minnie screams when she finds Cornelius hiding in an armoire. Horace is about to open the armoire himself, but Dolly “searches” it and pronounces it empty. After hearing Cornelius sneeze, Horace storms out upon realizing there are men hiding in the shop, although he is unaware that they are his clerks.

Dolly arranges for Cornelius and Barnaby, who are still pretending to be rich, to take the ladies out to dinner to the Harmonia Gardens to make up for their humiliation. The clerks and the ladies go to watch the Fourteenth Street Association Parade together. Alone, Dolly asks her first husband Ephram’s permission to marry Horace, requesting a sign. After meeting an old friend, Mrs. Rose, played by Cherry Hill, on a float in the parade, Dolly catches up with the annoyed Vandergelder as he is marching in the parade. She tells him the heiress Ernestina Money would be perfect for him and asks him to meet her at the Harmonia Gardens that evening.

At the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant, Rudolph, the head waiter, played by Norm Langley, whips his crew into shape for Dolly Levi’s return. Horace arrives to meet his date. As it turns out, she is not rich or elegant as Dolly implied.

Cornelius, Barnaby and their dates arrive and are unaware that Horace is also at the restaurant. Dolly makes her triumphant return to the Harmonia Gardens and is greeted in style by the staff as they sing the title song of the show. She sits in the now-empty seat at Horace’s table and proceeds to tell him that no matter what he says, she will not marry him. Fearful of being caught,

Cornelius confesses to the ladies that he and Barnaby have no money. The four try to sneak out during the polka contest, but Horace recognizes them and also spots Ermengarde and Ambrose. In the ensuing confrontation, Vandergelder fires Cornelius and Barnaby (although they claim to have already quit) and they are forced to flee as a riot breaks out and everybody ends up in court. Horace declares that he wouldn’t marry Dolly if she were the last woman in the world. Dolly angrily bids him farewell; while he’s bored and lonely, she’ll be living the high life.

The next morning, back at the hay and feed store, Cornelius and Irene, Barnaby and Minnie, and Ambrose and Ermengarde each come to collect the money Vandergelder owes them. Chastened, he finally admits that he needs Dolly in his life, but she is unsure about the marriage until Ephram sends her a sign. Vandergelder spontaneously repeats a saying of Ephram’s: “Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread about, encouraging young things to grow.” Cornelius becomes Horace’s business partner at the store, and Barnaby fills in Cornelius’ old position. Horace tells Dolly life would be dull without her, and she promises that she’ll “never go away again”.

The show is on Tuesday 13th May, and the Frome Memorial Theatre box office is already selling tickets so don’t delay in telephoning 01373 462795, visiting the web site at www.fromememorialthe or going in person between 9.30am – 1.00pm Monday to Saturday.