Dolly Levi, the boisterous matchmaking widow and Horace Vandergelder, the chauvinistic half-millionaire — the two leading roles in Hello, Dolly! —have personalities and motivations that are as compatible as oil and water. Most of us familiar with the show immediately think of the iconic Carol Channing, who played Levi in the original Broadway production or Barbara Streisand and Walter Matthau, who played these fine folks in the 1969 romantic comedy movie version of the musical.
Kevyn Robertson, Director of McKinney Summer Musicals (MSM), was challenged with finding two people who were more age- appropriate to play the leading roles in this summer’s production, coming to McKinney Boyd High School in July.
“Channing was fairly old when she revived the role of Dolly in 1994— in her early seventies; Streisand had that incredible voice, but was too young to be a successfully charming yet matronly Dolly; and Walter Matthau was too old to be Streisand’s Horace— maybe her dad but not her a potential husband,” said Robertson.
Happily, Robertson found the perfect match in Don High, a lawyer and entrepreneur, selected to play Horace, and Tracy Lastrapes, the youth choir director at Stonebridge United Methodist Church, chosen to play Dolly.
“Putting Tracy and Don together during auditions cinched it for me,” said Robertson. “They play well off of each other. Tracy as Dolly, meddling and putting her plans for Horace into action, and Don as Horace, resisting Dolly each step of the way.”
Robertson said Don and Tracy are in fact the perfect age for their respective roles and bring a great deal of experience to MSM. Lastrapes, who performed in three national theater tours, has a clean, clear and crisp speaking voice, and is a beautiful songbird. High, performing on stage since age 14, is having fun being cantankerous. “Don is taking great delight with Horace’s song, ‘It Takes a Woman’ and plays it perfectly,” said Robertson.
Lastrapes and High are sure to bring a fresh new energy and panache to these characters, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges for the two along the way.
“I love to talk but Dolly loves to talk even more than I do (although my husband might not think that is possible). Memorizing all of her colorful banter is definitely the most challenging part of playing Dolly,” said Lastrapes.
High is walking a fine line between being bossy, grumpy, and wanting everything his way, while not going too over the top. “I want the audience to see that, but not so much they are put off by it,” said High.
When asked what modern couples can learn from Dolly and Horace’s romance, Lastrapes said that Dolly knows what she wants and she knows how to get it. Horace fervently fights her but soon realizes what a wonderful woman she is. “It is always best to let the woman have her way! I guess times really haven’t changed,” said Lastrapes.
High said, “Horace is incredibly chauvinistic; Dolly is incredibly scheming, and he falls prey to her shenanigans. He never sees it coming…but he is better for it. They both have a strong sense of who they are, and they accept it in each other. That is important in any relationship.”
Both Lastrapes and High are MSM veterans who enjoy working with a diverse group of people at MSM. “MSM brings together doctors, lawyers, teachers and stay- at- home moms who all have a passion for the theatre. Under the direction of Kevyn Robertson, the result is magical,” said Lastrapes.
Audiences of all ages will enjoy the fun and funny Hello, Dolly!, Robertson said, “It is a certainty that audience members will be able to identify with at least one of the leading characters in some way. Good theater should reflect real life, and this show encourages us to take a humorous look at ourselves.”
After the show ends, it’s back to reality for Lastrapes and High but until then, let the meddling, shenanigans, and romance continue.
Hello, Dolly! runs July 9-10 and 14-17 at McKinney Boyd High School. Ticket information is available at www.mckinneysummermusicals.com. MSM is continuing to redefine community theater by focusing its resources on producing one spectacular show each year, distinguishing itself with a live orchestra and 50 talented singers and dancers performing in a 1,000-seat auditorium. Get ready to be blown away with this year’s performance of Hello, Dolly!
Hello, Dolly! is funded in part by the City of McKinney through a grant from the City of McKinney Arts Commission.
Pictured: Tracy Lastrapes as Dolly Levi (2011)