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City Players will sing out 'Hello, Dolly!' this weekend

For this all-volunteer, not-for-profit group, Dolly is a labor of love.

By ADAM SECHREST
Published July 20, 2007


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CLEARWATER - With a cast of 70 performers and a production crew of more than 30, the City Players will stage the high-energy musical Hello, Dolly! at Ruth Eckerd Hall this weekend.

It's the annual performance for the community theater group, which commonly rolls out big numbers of performers and stage hands so as many as possible can participate.

A professional 15-piece orchestra, hired by the City Players, will play the music from the famous Broadway musical.

Playing the lead role of Dolly Levi is Susan O'Gara, of St. Petersburg, who has performed in Hello, Dolly! previously, but never as the star. This is her first appearance with the City Players.

Based on the 1938 play by Thornton Wilder, the musical Hello, Dolly! follows the antics of matchmaker Dolly Levi as she attempts to find a wife for wealthy Horace Vandergelder. Her efforts go slightly astray.

City Players is a not-for-profit group based in Clearwater. The Players' production of Hello, Dolly! is directed by Betty Jane Pucci of Clearwater with choreography by Jason Fortner, a local theater veteran.

Rehearsals for Hello, Dolly! were held in a church in Clearwater. Sets were painted at a warehouse that didn't have air conditioning. "It's six weeks of practice," O'Gara said.

The City Players evolved from the Clearwater Community Chorus and became a theater group in 1972. The company draws cast members and production staff from the community.

"It's a real family experience," O'Gara said.

It's not uncommon for family members to work together to bring a production to life. Elizabeth, 6, Victoria, 9, and Hunter Uline, 11, are members of this chorus. It's Elizabeth's first stage performance.

Patrice Pucci, daughter of the show's director, is a member of the board of trustees and also performs in the show. She and her mother have worked with City Players since its inception.

Apart from the orchestra hired for this weekend's performances, all performers and support crew are volunteers. For many, it's a labor of love.

"Theater and music are really my two loves," Pucci said.

If you go

'Hello, Dolly!'

What: The City Players' performance of Hello, Dolly!

When: Today and Saturday at 8 p.m. ; Sunday at 2 p.m. Where: Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. Tickets: $23.

Parking is free. Call (727) 791-7400.

[Last modified July 19, 2007, 22:54:30]


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