Hello, Dolly! Musical Gets a Modern Makeover

By Journalism student Max

New Life Academy’s fall musical, “Hello Dolly!,” is stepping outside of the box by incorporating technology and innovative choreography to modernize the production. This is the first time the theater department is repeating a show that New Life has already done.

Mrs. Brumley was the director of the New Life Academy’s first “Hello Dolly!” production in 2012. “We’ve been calling it a revival,” Ms. Allen, English teacher and Hello, Dolly! assistant director, explains. “Mrs. Brumley’s team did such a good job with it, we wanted to be able to bring the New Life audience something new.”

Changing the setting of the musical from 1890 to the present is a difficult task without editing the script. The entire production design of “Hello Dolly!” was changed from its original format by modernizing different aspects of the production design. “I think the biggest change that we have made is incorporating technology,” Ms. Allen said. “In the original, Dolly is a matchmaker meddling with people’s lives. In our version, she creates an app where people can meet each other and create their matches virtually.”

Since so much technology is being incorporated into the play, many people are assisting the directors. Ms. Allen has appreciated the help from Bill Rogers, [students] Ethan Fizel, Andy Nelson, Sam Pederson, and Jackson Limberg, who are each working on different projects to modernize the production. All these volunteers have helped with the plays before, but this year, they are putting in extra work to make the modernized Hello Dolly! production come to life.

The building team is building a billboard into the set so that all social media interactions and usage of Dolly’s app can be seen by the audience. Ethan Fizel plays a big role as the lighting director, but for this production, he extends his assistance in other areas. Ethan says, “As a whole, the play is using social media and a modern style to relate to its audience in a way that 1890s ‘Hello Dolly!’ doesn’t have an opportunity to. Specifically, I’m compiling all posts, texts, and times our characters use their phones to show the audience how the characters are using their technology.”

The modernized setting, combined with several other factors, contributes to the production concept of “Hello Dolly!,” which is to live outside of the box. Ms. Allen elaborates on the production concept of Hello Dolly! saying, “Hopefully, people leave this show understanding that they don’t have to get a certain number of likes, or that they don’t have to behave a certain way just because it’s expected of them. Once you relieve yourself of that burden, the world is open to so many possibilities which characters, such as Barnaby and Cornelius, learn throughout their journey.”

This modernization of “Hello Dolly!” is an exciting take on the production that opens new doors for meaningful lessons, themes, and satire. Ethan Fizel explains, “I’m excited to see how it ends up and I would recommend for everyone to come to see the finished product!” Performances of “Hello Dolly!” begin Nov. 5 and continue through the following weekend.