Famous musical will be performed by local residents this weekend
Ryan Boyce, The Oklahoma Daily
GO AND DO
April 5-7 and 12-14
101 E. Main Street
Norman, OK 73069
$15 or $20
Coming to the stage this weekend at Norman’s Sooner Theatre is the classic musical “Hello, Dolly!” Best known for its 1969 movie adaptation starring Barbra Streisand as the famed matchmaker, the Sooner Theatre version is using its own executive director, Jennifer Baker, to play the title role.
Baker grew up with the movie, she said, but hasn’t watched it in years and chose not to before tackling Dolly herself.
“Anyone can get unnerved by watching Barbra Streisand,” she said.
Baker has found the part both challenging and rewarding, she said. It’s her biggest acting part since becoming Sooner Theatre’s executive director ten years ago. Between the heavy memorization, the music’s low notes and the pressures of running a theater and raising a family, Baker said she has plenty on her plate.
A talented, diverse cast and an experienced director are helping, she said. Kids and adults of all ages are part of the “Hello, Dolly!” cast, and Baker said the show has a nice mix of first-timers and seasoned professionals as well.
Director Matthew Sipress is in charge of coordinating the whole group. Now the associate production manager at OKC’s Lyric Theatre, Sipress performed in the 1995 Broadway revival of “Hello, Dolly!” with Carol Channing and went on the subsequent tour.
After years of touring and performing in New York, Sipress has landed in Oklahoma City, and Baker said Sooner Theatre is lucky to work with him.
“He knows so much about the show and it’s been fantastic to have him here,” Baker said.
Sipress said he was equally enthusiastic about the opportunity to direct “Dolly” for the first time. He had nothing but praise for his star.
“Jennifer is terrific,” Sipress said. “Dolly Levi takes control of every situation she’s in and that’s what makes Jennifer perfect for this part. Jennifer takes control of her theater and her family and she’s a very strong woman.”
Sipress said the supporting characters and ensemble were also doing exceptionally. While he knows not all ensemble members are seasoned veterans of the theater, he said their work ethic and enthusiasm were fantastic.
“Everyone is going along for the ride I’m putting them on,” he said.
Sipress’s production of “Hello, Dolly!” will feature original choreography from the 1992 Paris production he performed in, as well as what he described as a Broadway-quality set, he said.
But above all, Sipress expects that audience members at “Hello, Dolly!” will have a great time.
“It’s all about people falling in love, from the very beginning. How can you not have a good time?”