Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Interview: 6 Questions & A Plug with HELLO, DOLLY!'s Wally Dunn

Interview: 6 Questions & A Plug with HELLO, DOLLY!'s Wally Dunn

Often the smaller roles and, we hear here, the crew members are not recognized but are integral to the whole production happening. In this edition of 6Qs & a Plug, actor Wally Dunn shares his thoughts on HELLO, DOLLY! and his career thus far. The show opens on the Orpheum stage tonight.

Everyone is familiar with HELLO, DOLLY! -- so can you share a story about being in the cast of this Broadway revival that stars Betty Buckley? What's something fans don't know about this show?

What fans of the show don't know is how diligent and hardworking our crew is every night. They make sure we look and sound our best, ensure our safety on and off stage, they work crazy hours packing up and loading out our huge show and unload it a few hours later in a new city, often without enough rest. We couldn't do the show without them.

Another thing the fans might not know is that as beautiful as the choreography is onstage it's just as wonderful backstage. Everything and everyone has a particular place to be at any given time during the show. I think it's as beautiful and fun as the on-stage choreography.

So true -- the crew deserves more credit!

What is it like working with a Broadway legend like Ms. Buckley?

Working with Betty is a real treat. She provides a wonderful example to emulate. She's a consummate pro. The reason she makes it look so easy is because she's done and continues to do her homework on her role.

Your role is Rudolph, the head waiter at Harmonia Gardens, the scene of the famous "Waiter's Gallop" and title song, "Hello, Dolly!" What is it like being a part of those well-known scenes and what is your favorite part of them?

It's an honor to follow in the footsteps of wonderful character men who've played the role, such as David Hartman, Robert Hocknell, the great David Hurst, Jonathan Wynne and of course, my friend Kevin Ligon.

I love the clockwork precision in Waiter's Gallop. It's like being on a roller-coaster overnight.

Hello, Dolly! was my mom's favorite musical. Sadly, she passed before she got a chance to see me sing and dance in her favorite song. When I was a youngster my mom would bring me up to dance to Hello, Dolly! at weddings and parties. That tradition lasted into my days as an adult. Just being present on stage during the number reunites me with my mom eight times a week -- hands down, that's my favorite part!

You've been a part of several national tours, including WEST SIDE STORY, SPAMALOT and ALL SHOOK UP, so as you tour the country with Dolly now, are you seeing different parts of the country? How have audiences across the nation changed over time?

Yes, indeed I have. It's a wonderful privilege to be able to travel the country with enough time to explore and get to somewhat know a place. With some exceptions, I'm revisiting cities and towns I've played in the past, which is a wonderful experience.

I'm not sure audiences have changed all that much, really. Folks who love live theatre and its music are a unique group. To me, they have a need to see live performance of old and new works as they need air to breathe. What's changed I suppose is their ability to shout out their appreciation via social media. It's marvelous to read tweets, posts and pictures of their delight seeing a show. It's an aspect of an audience's experience that performers are only recently privy.

How did you get your start as an actor and what drew you to a career on stage?

Luck, happenstance, and showing up, I suppose. I decided to audition for MAN OF LA MANCHA my senior year in high school because it looked fun. It was a total one-off. I was going to be attending Providence College as a pre-Med student. Acting as a profession was the furthest thing I had in mind. I was cast as the understudy to Sancho Panza. A fellow named Darren won the role. He was a first-rate cross country runner and his attendance at rehearsals was a low priority. After he missed his fourth or fifth rehearsal, I was given the role! What kept me at it was that for all the hours, rehearsing, painting sets, hanging lights, building sets and learning lines none of seems like work. It also provided me with a community of like-minded people who felt the same. Lucky, indeed.

What are some bucket list roles or shows you hope to do still?

I'd love to take a stab at Sir Toby Belch again. It was the part I played in my first college production (and my third show ever). Now that I have seasoned-actor status, I think I'd be able to bring some maturity and life-experience to Sir Toby than I was able to as a callow 19 year old.

You're currently on tour through August 2019; do you have any plans for your next project after that? If not, what are you interested in doing once you return home?

Nothing in the books at the moment. I'll most likely return and hit the pavement after a vacation in Maine. I'll keep you all updated if anything comes through!

Fun side story:

During an early performance, in Cleveland, I think, just before the scrim went up at the start of the Waiter's Gallop, I realized... I forgot my whistle! Instant PANIC doesn't do the feeling justice. In those split seconds, I thought, "I'll just use my fingers to whistle - It's pretty loud; I use it to hail taxis in NY -- then I remembered I had gloves on! By then it had all gone pear shaped. Those audience members are a lucky few. They saw a one-time only performance, yet to be repeated. See, I've haven't forgotten my whistle since! Whew.

More info: Tickets and details about this production, playing through April 28, 2019: https://hennepintheatretrust.org/events/hello-dolly-broadway-tickets-orpheum-theatre-minneapolis-mn-2019/



Interview: Jefferson Turner of POTTED POTTER at Pantages Theater Photo
Playing to sold out houses all over the world, the Olivier Award nominated Potted Potter - The Unauthorised Harry Experience, A Parody by Jeff and Dan takes on the ultimate challenge of condensing all seven Harry Potter books (and a real life game of Quidditch) into seventy hilarious minutes.

Interview: Martino Mayotte of ARTS + REC at Queer Circus Photo
The creators of the Queer Circus, Martinoa Mayotte and Gabe Gabriel, met while attending a theater conservatory in New York in 2005(AMDA). They moved to Minnesota and started producing in and around the Twin Cities as Silver Slipper Productions LLC in 2007. Early productions included drag queen hosted musical theater cabarets, original musicals, licensed plays, and burlesque/drag shows in unconventional spaces.

Peter Rothstein to Depart as Artistic Director of Theater Latté Da Photo
Theater Latté Da (TLD) has announced that its founding Artistic Director, Peter Rothstein, will step down to assume a new role as Producing Artistic Director of Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida, succeeding longtime Asolo Rep artistic leader Michael Edwards.

Winners Announced For The 2022 BroadwayWorld Minneapolis / St. Paul Awards Photo
The winners have been announced for the 2022 BroadwayWorld Minneapolis / St. Paul Awards, honoring the best in regional productions, touring shows, and more which had their first performance between October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022.


From This Author - Kristen Hirsch Montag

Kristen Hirsch Montag is a senior public relations and communications manager for Meet Minneapolis, Convention and Visitors Association, by day and self-professed theatre geek by night. A busy care... (read more about this author)


BWW Interview: Kevin Carolan of COME FROM AWAY at Hennepin Theatre TrustBWW Interview: Kevin Carolan of COME FROM AWAY at Hennepin Theatre Trust
January 20, 2022

Kevin Carolan and the ensemble of COME FROM AWAY, about the planes grounded in Canada on 9/11, soar in this human tale that brings up all the emotions of a tragic event, with a healthy side of laughter.

BWW Interview: The Anitas: When WEST SIDE STORY stars spoke with BroadwayWorld MSPBWW Interview: The Anitas: When WEST SIDE STORY stars spoke with BroadwayWorld MSP
December 16, 2021

A lucky BWW editor recalls when interviewing two of the stars of the new WEST SIDE STORY film and small world connections with MSP theatre.

BWW Interview: Gerri Weagraff of ANASTASIA at Hennepin Theatre TrustBWW Interview: Gerri Weagraff of ANASTASIA at Hennepin Theatre Trust
December 16, 2021

Russian-set musicals figure highly in this actor's nontraditional path to the tour stage. ANASTASIA, the new Broadway musical, and its Dowager Empress are on the Orpheum's stage till Dec. 19.

BWW Interview: Sasha Hutchings of OKLAHOMA! at Hennepin Theatre TrustBWW Interview: Sasha Hutchings of OKLAHOMA! at Hennepin Theatre Trust
November 9, 2021

With a face and head of glorious hair you may recognize at first glance, Sasha Hutchings (Laurey) opens OKLAHOMA!'s national tour in Minneapolis at Hennepin Theatre Trust's Orpheum in the first Equity tour of the show in 40 years. The actor gives some insight into the reimagined production and more in 6 Questions.

BWW Interview: Caroline Innerbichler of FROZEN at Hennepin Theatre TrustBWW Interview: Caroline Innerbichler of FROZEN at Hennepin Theatre Trust
October 18, 2021

Caroline Innerbichler (Anna) in FROZEN returns home to Minneapolis to play her first Broadway tour on a new-to-her stage but her local resume proceeds her and fans fill the seats for this actor and the beloved musical's first staging locally. She shares her experience getting this role and her time waiting for theatre to return, and reveals her very Minnesotan self in 6 Questions.