A tough act to follow


Abby Chesman, Dimensions

Junior Shiri Cohen performs as main character Dolly Levi.

Cati Werbin-Gradel, Incoming A&E Editor

The cast of “Hello, Dolly!’’ steps onto their train station set for their first song, “Call on Dolly.”  Nerves and excitement pulse through their bodies as they are finally about to perform a mask-free musical after two years of COVID-19. 

This year’s Joan and Marvin Rosenberg High School musical “Hello, Dolly!” was performed on Dec. 8, Dec. 9 and Dec. 11 at the Upper School campus. “Hello, Dolly” was directed by Director of Arts Education Dr. David Solomon and included a cast of 21 high school students, a stage crew of 10 students and an orchestra of eight students. 

“Hello, Dolly!” is a musical about a Jewish matchmaker who goes on a wild adventure while arranging a marriage for a millionaire New Yorker. Solomon chose “Hello, Dolly” as this year’s musical because he wanted to bring joy and laughter to the audience after the many challenges students have faced over the past two years.

“‘Hello, Dolly!’ is a classic American musical comedy [and] I don’t know of anyone who disliked this show…it’s a laugh a minute,” Solomon said. 

Auditions for the musical took place in early September with students performing a monologue from the show as well as a song of their choice. 

“It [auditions] was a really supportive environment, and everyone was standing behind me and were super sweet,” sophomore Abby Chesman said.

After the cast was selected, the rehearsal process began. Rehearsals took place Mondays through Thursdays from 4-6 p.m., where the cast and crew would work on learning choreography and music, going over lines and later practicing with costumes and props. As the show began to approach, rehearsals became longer and more serious. 

Tech week, otherwise known as “hell week” for the stage crew, was a week of running through the entire show every day and fixing up choreography, numbers, costumes and stage directions. 

“The performance dates kind of creep up on you…,” stage crew manager Samantha Eidelman said. “But I do enjoy leadership and responsibility, and being stage crew manager allows me to do all that and it’s a productive way for me to use my time that I can actually enjoy.”  

The stage crew’s teamwork and productivity is another crucial aspect of putting on a production. According to Eidelman, “Hello, Dolly” is a very “prop-heavy show,” with props such as trays of food, parasols and parade signs, making it crucial for the stage crew to keep all the props organized so that nothing gets broken or lost. 

Though the stage crew worked extremely hard on props and set design, they were able to get some extra help from Upper School Facilities Ebert Bracamonte, who built the entire set.  Prior to constructing, Solomon sent Bracamonte reference photos and Bracamonte was able to design the set using his own vision. After a three-week process and long hours of work including coming in on the weekends, Bracamonte was able to build the New York skyline set. 

“I like working with wood and being creative,” Bracamonte said. “For me, this wasn’t stressful.”

Many of the cast and crew participate in the production, not only because of their passion for acting, but also because they can make friends as well. This includes Chesman, who loves theater but was not in the musical last year. Regretting this, Chesman decided to join “Hello, Dolly!” this year.

“It’s just super fun to bond with people in other grades because I’m not on a sports team, so it gives me that same opportunity to feel like I’m a part of something,” Chesman said. “It’s  just a really funny story, and I feel like it’s kind of timeless because it’s all about making new friends and stepping out of your comfort zone and that’s what being in the show is about.”  

 The many details that go into putting on a production can be exhausting and draining at some points, but the end result keeps the cast and crew working hard and pushing themselves to do the best show they can.  

“Putting on a show is a big project. It’s a puzzle where everybody is responsible for their piece, and it all comes together as the opening night comes closer,” Solomon said. “Seeing the students grow in their roles, seeing the various elements of the show come together and seeing the reward in great performances that create memories that will last your life.”