Theatre Memphis Casts 100th Anniversary Season Opener Online
Using a unique and newly conceived way to audition for stage productions due to the COVID-19 limitations on assembling, Theatre Memphis received audio and video submissions via the internet to select its cast for its opening musical, Hello, Dolly!, for its 100th anniversary season. The production is scheduled to open August 21, 2020, in a renovated and expanded facility at 630 Perkins Extended at Southern Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee.
Directed and choreographed by Jordan Nichols and Travis Bradley, the process to cast Hello, Dolly! took place over the course of almost four weeks and countless hours on and offline reviewing submissions, scheduling "callbacks" and interviewing potential cast members. "We had to reinvent our process so everyone had a clear path for us to keep this organized," says Theatre Memphis Production Stage Manager and Volunteer Coordinator Amy Salerno Hale. "It is certainly a different dynamic from our usual auditions, but people rose to the occasion and were prepared for their audition and that really showed in the submissions." NIchols and Bradley applaud all who auditioned who made the casting process successful. Both expressed their thanks to those, "... willing to share their talents and time in this way."
The cast list includes some familiar faces to Theatre Memphis who are excited to be a part of the grand re-opening. Not the least of which is Debbie Litch who has been tapped with the title role of Dolly Gallagher Levi. As the Theatre Memphis Executive Producer, Litch decided to audition for the role as part of fulfilling a dream and saluting a great friend, the late Ann Sharp, who, according to Litch, "was the quintessential Dolly" when she played the role at Theatre Memphis in 2003. Litch only expected the opportunity to audition and made that clear to the directors. Nichols says, "Of all the people who submitted extensive video audition materials, Debbie was the best fit for Dolly and she will excel in the title role!" Bradley laughingly agrees, "From the personality to the moves to the low notes, Debbie is Dolly."
Also in the cast is Barclay Roberts who returns to the character of Horace Vandergelder, a role he also played opposite Sharp. Others cast in leading or supporting roles are Emily Pettet as Irene Molloy, Erica Peninger as Minnie Fay, and Nichols as Cornelius Hackl. In cameo roles, as a nod to many who have performed at Theatre Memphis in the 100 year history, TM favorites will be gracing the stage in this production, including Barry Fuller, Jason Spitzer and more. The cast totals 35, counting the ensemble.
The entire cast list can be seen at www.theatrememphis.org/hello-dolly.