#8216;Hello, Dolly!#8217;, Hello, Hard Work!

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

As she sits on the edge of the Ironton High School stage with a thermos to her lips, junior Kelsey Bronson is treating herself to a little break.

For months, she’s been in rehearsal for the school’s upcoming production of “Hello, Dolly!” and with the show just a few days away, the tomato soup mixed with Half and Half that she’s sipping is the calm before a storm of hard work.

Bronson estimates that they’ve been working for nearly 10 weeks, since the students first returned from Christmas break, adopting the tale of Dolly Levi, a matchmaker who finds love in a most unexpected place.

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The students have worked every night for an average of three hours, followed up by a Saturday rehearsal.

In her second appearance on the IHS stage — she was in the chorus of last year’s “Damn Yankees” — Bronson provides a little comic relief as the slightly dim-witted Minnie Fay.

“Just getting into her character has been the biggest challenge,” Bronson said. “She’s really stupid, and I’m not, so I have to pretend I’m stupid … OK, so maybe I can be ditzy at times, but I’m normally not.”

It’s been a challenge, but Bronson said that the leap from the chorus to a leading role has taught her a lot about herself as an artist.

“It’s been an eye-opener, it’s a really neat experience to be able to work with different kinds of people to get a feel for what theatre really is,” Bronson said.

Although Bronson has had a tough time playing dumb, perhaps the person who’s had the most work to do has been IHS stage veteran McKenzie Yates. She plays the titular “Dolly”, a role made famous by actresses such as Carol Channing and Barbra Streisand.

Many in high school theatre are looking for the limelight, but Yates said that she’s had to put a lot of effort into chewing up the scenery.

“It’s been difficult trying to get to that character who’s so big, who’s in the spotlight all the time,” Yates said. “She has big reactions to everybody. She’s a big character. She’s one of those people that when she walks into a room … you notice.”

For a leading role, Yates said that her work doesn’t end when she leaves the theater.

“At home I’ve been studying lines, I’ve got a lot of lines this year,” Yates said. “There are a lot of monologues in this play.”

The students have put a lot of time and effort into the musical, but Bronson is still a little bit concerned.

“It’s OK. It’s not really where it needs to be, but it’s getting there,” Bronson said.

Ever the optimist, Yates said she has every confidence that, as they have in so many performances before, the IHS students would pull it together.

“I think it’s coming along nicely,” Yates said. “It’s a little rough right now, but so much changes from dress rehearsal to that first performance. It’s different having an audience. I think it will come together really nice.”

Audiences can see for themselves this weekend.

“Hello, Dolly!” will be performed in the IHS auditorium at 8 p.m. this Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. April 2.

Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for students.