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The Penndulum

Behind the Scenes of the Pennridge High School Production Hello, Dolly

Allyson Ricciardi
Four Pennridge students who have leading roles in Hello, Dolly. From left to right: Jared Smith, Kiera Ruch, Ryan Cecere, and Finn Norquay.

Hello, Dolly is to be the play this year at Pennridge High School. Performances will span four days, one each night. The spectators get to see a spectacular show spanning a couple of hours. What the spectators fail to see is the many months of work that go into just four performances. To set the scene, Hello, Dolly is a play starring Dolly, a famous New York matchmaker who is facing her most formidable challenge yet, trying to find a wife for Hoarce, a wealthy but overwhelmingly grumpy merchant. Dolly has been successful in matching many people in the city but faces a continual struggle to find Horace a match. She begins to realize that maybe she would like to marry Horace but is waiting for a sign from her late husband. Not only that, but Horace also has to be willing to accept her.

One of the most challenging jobs in producing a play is that of the director. The director is responsible for getting the rights to the play almost a year in advance. The directors have to be very well prepared for years to come, not just solely focusing on this year’s production. In addition to getting rights, information like when the play is taking place next year and the prices will also have to be submitted alongside the rights to the board. After the production rights are obtained and the play is approved by the board. The director can begin casting for the show. In the case of this show happening in April, auditions start in November. Each student then prepares an audition and a dance, which is then seen and scored only by the director and casting team. Students are then selected for the parts based on how highly they achieve in their audition. Pennridge choir teacher Christa Schimitsch is the director of this year’s spring production. She brought up more things that go into making what she stated as an “extravagant” production. She mentioned, “One of the more challenging aspects… relates to more of the logistics such as trying to figure out how to get certain pieces into the auditorium such as a horse carriage.” This aspect tends to be overlooked as a struggle of being the director, but many props are made for plays that often need to be significant in size to fit on the big stages where these plays are performed. These props can take weeks to make but would be useless if they were never able to make their appearance on stage.

The cast that makes up the play has to be dedicated and committed to their craft in order to have a good performance. They are required to go to three days of auditions; then, they must attend callbacks to ensure they have secured the part. The week after callbacks happen, rehearsals begin every day (some weeks with holidays can cause irregularities) after school for two hours. These rehearsals run from the final week of November to the start of the play on April 11. There are also some Saturday rehearsals that are five hours long. In addition to these, the practices leading up to the play become even longer. At the start of March, two weeks of practices have been extended to two and a half hours, then three hours for the last two weeks of March. Then, in the first week of April, the practices become four hours long. The longest of all are the three days leading up to the play, where a complete run-through is required; these practices are four and a half hours long! All the hours of training and preparation add up to 193 hours. That’s not even considering that many of the performers do additional practice at home. All this work is put into four performances, each spanning two hours! Margaux Maxwell is a student at Pennridge High School and is in this year’s spring production playing the character of Irene Molloy, a young widowed woman who owns a hat shop. She stated, “Opening night is such a surreal moment. Thinking back on starting the whole process in October and all the time you put into this two-hour show is crazy… Spending hours every day after school for almost half the school year… The process is extremely long and detailed….”


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About the Contributor
Allyson Ricciardi, Student Writer
Allyson Ricciardi, Grade 12. Interests include water polo, swimming, painting, NHS, surfing, snowboarding, and hanging with friends. Allyson plans to attend Siena College to study pre-law and hopes to pursue a law degree at Albany Law School.

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