Don't miss this exciting semi-staged version of the show at Shea's 710 Theatre!

By: May. 12, 2023

Some of Broadway's great talents will once again be merging with the best of Buffalo's own actors to present a beloved hit from 1964--Jerry Herman's HELLO, DOLLY! Starring Buffalo, led by Artistic Director Drew Fornarola, has assembled a cast of nearly 50 for it's concert presentation of the classic show.

Firmly settled in at Shea's 710 Theatre, the company has presented such varied titles as LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, RENT, EVITA, and SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE. Fornarola believes it is time to produce one of the shows of Broadway's Golden Age.

The story tells of the matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi's attempt to find a second husband for herself at the turn of the last century. Meanwhile two young store clerks leave their jobs in YONKERS for a big adventure in New York City. Comedy ensues and everyone is assured a happy ending.

The original HELLO, DOLLY! ran on Broadway for almost seven years, making Carol Channing a household name. Such notable replacements included Pearl Bailey, Ethel Merman, Phyllis Diller and Ginger Rogers. The 2017 revival won Bette Midler a TONY Award for her portrayal of the famous matchmaker. The 1969 Hollywood Film starred a young Barbra Streisand with Walter Matthau as her love interest!

In Buffalo, a brisk rehearsal schedule unites all of the forces. The result promises to be an exciting semi-staged version of the show, with the cast carrying scripts and using music stands. The formula has worked well for the company in the past, who presents two such productions each theatre season

The talent Fornarola has employed in the past include such notable TONY Award winning actors Lena Hall and Matt Doyle.

Some recognizable local names for DOLLY include Greg Gjurich as the ornery Horace Vandergelder and Anthony Lazzaro as Barnaby.

For HELLO, DOLLY!, the title role will be played by Buffalo born actress Michele Ragusa, whose training began at Niagara University. In conversation this week from Hilton Head, SC, where she is appearing in Sondheim's COMPANY, Ragusa recalls the start of her career at Studio Arena Theatre, under the Direction of David Frank. There she earned her Actor's Equity Card and began her professional career. Her 3 octave vocal range serves her well, playing roles from Eliza in MY FAIR LADY to her upcoming performance as Gladys in the musical MEMPHIS. This year she also appears at Carnegie Hall in a new work, "AUSTEN"S PRIDE: A NEW MUSICAL OF PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Her many Broadway credits include YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, TITANIC and last season's FLYING OVER SUNSET.

Having played the title role in HELLO, DOLLY in Vero Beach in 2016, Ragusa savours the role of Dolly, where she "delights in the audience being clued in early on as to what the final result is going to be" as Dolly maneuvers and manipulated Horace from the outset. The book by Michael Stewart heavily borrows from Thornton Wilder's script of THE MATCHMAKER, where Dolly delivers heartfelt monologues directed towards her late husband. Ragusa looks forward to these acting highlights as well as the exciting score.

Following her performances with Starring Buffalo, Ragusa will be honored at the Buffalo Artie Awards for Career Achievement.

Ali Ewoldt

The role of hat shop owner Irene Malloy will be played by Ali Ewoldt. Her impressive Broadway credits include Les MISERABLES, The KING AND I and Christine in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, a role she played on on the Great White Way for 2 years. She explained how she settled into the famed character of Christine after her career was more established, feeling "gratefeul having had so much performance experience behind me.. allowing me to bring some honesty, truth and depth to the role." Her voice training in opera and musical theatre while an undergrad at Yale University surely has contributed to success with the legit soprano repertoire. Ewoldt recently finished a highly praised run of THE SECRET GARDEN in Los Angeles at the Ahmanson Theatre and has numerous concert dates booked for this summer.

Kevin Zak

Kevin Zak, a former Buffalo native and SUNY Buffalo alumnus, gets to play the quirky shop clerk Cornelius Hackl. He has appeared in New York in SILENCE! THE MUSICAL, CLINTON: THE MUSICAL and in the National tour of WAITRESS. Zak fondly recalls memories of seeing shows at 710 Main (formerly Studio Arena Theatre). He has high praise for his training and time spent in the UB Theatre Department, having been taught by Stephen McKinley Henderson (nominated himself this season for a TONY Award for Best Leading Actor in BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY). Zak is presently involved in the development of the new musical DEATH BECOMES HER.

Starring Buffalo has used High School Choruses and local Community Choruses for their productions. For DOLLY, a chorus of 34 local singers, under the direction of Karen Saxon, takes on the challenges of Jerry Herman's lush choral writing. Such hits as "Put On Your Sunday Clothes" and "Before The Parade Passes By" are sure to rouse the audience, to say nothing of the title song sung by the male chorus and Ms. Ragusa.

Conductor Alison D'Amato, a former professor at UB and faculty member of the Eastman School of Music will conduct the orchestra. Four local dancers from UB round out the ensemble.

HELLO, DOLLY! plays at Shea's 710 Theatre on June 2nd at 7:30pm, and June 3rd at 2pm and 7:30pm. Contact for tickets and more information

2023 Regional Awards


Alyssa Wray And Sidney DuPont to Lead SISTER ACT at Starring Buffalo Photo
Alyssa Wray And Sidney DuPont to Lead SISTER ACT at Starring Buffalo

Get ready for a powerful and hilarious performance as Alyssa Wray and Sidney DuPont take the stage in Starring Buffalo's production of Sister Act at Shea's 710 Theater. Don't miss this sparkling tribute to friendship, filled with gospel music and outrageous comedy.

Rochester Fringe Festival Cancels Second Night Of AstroFringe Photo
Rochester Fringe Festival Cancels Second Night Of AstroFringe

Based on forecasts supplied by meteorologists, the 2023 Rochester Fringe Festival has determined that the approach of Tropical Storm Ophelia, currently causing heavy rains on the east coast of the United States, is driving significant cloud cover toward upstate New York.

Review: THE COLOR PURPLE at Sheas 710 Theatre Photo
Review: THE COLOR PURPLE at Shea's 710 Theatre

Something magical is happening at Shea's 710 Theatre. And it's a joy to report that the local talent onstage is simply astounding. Along with the Ujima Theatre Company and Second Generation Theatre, Shea's is producing a spine-tingling production of the musical THE COLOR PURPLE.

Congressman Joe Morelle to Join County Executive Adam Bello at Parcel 5 to Introduce Roche Photo
Congressman Joe Morelle to Join County Executive Adam Bello at Parcel 5 to Introduce Rochester Fringe Shows

Congressman Joe Morelle will join County Executive Adam Bello at Parcel 5 to introduce Rochester Fringe Shows on Saturday evening.

From This Author - Michael Rabice

Michael Rabice has over  40 years of experience attending plays, musicals and opera all over the world. He is a frequent performer in opera and has appeared with the Glimmerglass Opera, Artp... Michael Rabice">(read more about this author)


#repshow# in[i]# One Man, Two Guvnors
Aurora Players (10/06-10/22)
#repshow# in[i]# Rocky Horror Show
OFC Creations Theatre (10/12-10/31)
#repshow# in[i]# ROMEO & JULIET
The Company Theatre (10/13-10/29)
#repshow# in[i]# Hell-oween
First Look Buffalo Theatre Company (10/06-10/21)
#repshow# in[i]# Belfast Girls
Irish Classical Theatre Company (9/22-10/15)
#repshow# in[i]# Funny Girl
Shea's Performing Arts Center (2/13-2/18)

Recommended For You