I have not really written that much yet about Hello Dolly! other than for my constant marketing content on Facebook as I really wanted the entire experience to kind of percolate in my brain, but I thought this was probably the best time to do it. Tonight we had our second emergency cast switch up as our leading lady Jenny was feeling terribly sick.
Fortunately, we had ourselves a Maggi in our toolbox.
In all my years of doing theatre, I have never worked with somebody who understudied a role so well. Sometimes you get someone who knows all the dialogue, or maybe all the songs but not the dialogue and needs to hold cue-cards in an almost panto fashion. You rarely find someone who would know the choreography.
Maggi knew all three.
We all love Jenny and want her to feel better, and I think rather than looking at it as Maggi replacing her, it’s more that Maggi respected Jenny’s choices as well as all of the guidance that Debbie, Neill and Heather provided (as Director, Musical Director and Choreographer respectively) so that it was an almost seamless transition.
This has nothing to do with who is better. Both actors bring an incredible gravitas to the role and make for a wonderful leading lady in their own right.
I’m still astonished, though. I was quietly chatting with Neill in the audience while we ran our emergency rehearsal and he simply asked in wonder, “How is she doing this?”. From my point of view, dedication and talent. I knew Maggi was dedicated to her role as understudy as she would attend a lot of the rehearsals that our ensemble characters did not need to go. I could have done the same as I was asked by Debbie to understudy for Horace back in the beginning in the production but life circumstances made attending extra rehearsals rather…hard. I’m glad that trigger was never pulled as I enjoyed my little coral of characters and thought Stephen made for the perfect Horace.
Let’s go back to the word respected. That brings me back to this entire cast and crew. As Maggi stepped up, we all had to step up to cover the spots and scene changes that she was normally responsible for. We collectively analyzed the scenes and quickly problem solved the issue together so that it would work. And I tell you folks, it did!
From my own personal viewpoint and from everybody that I have spoken to from, this has been the best cast and crew experience I have had in many years. Maybe even ever. We all just click, and respect each other. We are nice to each other. We are a variety of ages and backgrounds. Some are still in school. Some have just started their careers. Some have wrapped up their old careers, retired and are trying their hands at something better. Some have been doing theatre for decades. Others have only just begun. None of that mattered in this theatre. We all talk to each other and leave this production as friends.
Notes I made during the rehearsal:
- Kudos to Maggie for stepping in and kicking the crap out of the theatre windows.
- She has an amazingly powerful set of pipes and a vibratto that just goes through you.
- Some shows we tell older audience members to turn up their hearing aids. This one, we tell them to shut them off.
- Maggi’s dedication to the show is amazing. Far better than mine, who was asked to understudy for Horace and would have been walking around with cue cards and placards placed everywhere like William Hartnell in Doctor Who.