Well, hello!: ‘Hello, Dolly!’ opens CST’s seventh year

Published 7:48 am Thursday, June 6, 2024

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Cedar Summerstock Theater artistic director Nancy Lee had hoped to present “Hello, Dolly!” during the theater’s 2020 season – but as we all know, a pandemic got in the way.

But “Dolly” is back in the line-up and will kick off the 2024 season on Thursday, June 13 at the Krapek Family Fine Arts Center at the Cedar River Complex in Osage.

And Lee couldn’t be happier.

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“It is such a classic show,” Lee said between rehearsals for the show at South Square in St. Ansgar. “And it sets the tone for our season – so much of the tenor in our country is divisive; we wanted to do shows that were fun. Our overriding theme, I think, is of community, of resiliency.”

Craig Johnson – who has directed several CST shows, including “Oklahoma!” “9 to 5 the Musical,” and “The Addams Family” — returns to direct the iconic show, which opened 60 years ago on Broadway.

The chance to star in the show is not lost on the CST’s new crop of actors who, despite their age, are well-acquainted with the classic. 

They are also well-versed in the company itself, which continues to gain recognition across the country for its quality and for its emphasis on education and training. Since its inception in 2017, CST has drawn scores of college-aged actors and tech crew enthusiasts who are seeking experience in a summer stock setting.

“It’s exciting in the best way possible – and, horrifying in the best way possible,” said Sydney Michele Castiglione with a chuckle. Castiglione, who portrays the infamous Dolly Levi, said performing in four musicals in the space of three months requires intensive work – but also provides invaluable training that she and fellow actors welcome. “I am grateful for the opportunity.”

Celine Sullivan, who portrays Irene Malloy in “Dolly,” said she was attracted to the troupe when another CST alum “really hyped everything about Cedar Summerstock. It really sounded good.”

Ben Carter, who plays Cornelius Hackl in the show, and Max Cordoba, who portrays Horace Vandergelder, said CST’s reputation drew them to the company.

‘What stood out to me was its focus on community,” Cordoba said.

CST is one of the few summer stock opportunities that features a troupe of only college-aged actors, Castiglione said. Ten actors will work throughout the season; another actor, Anders Haglund of Charles City, will be featured as the Jester in “Once Upon a Mattress,” the CST’s third offering of the summer.

The slate also includes “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” and “School of Rock.” All productions will feature number of local actors, Lee said. There are at least 10 youth in each of three productions and a whopping 26 kids in “School of Rock,” including several sixth graders who have been busy since April learning how to play instruments as part of their roles. As well, there are about 15 local high school kids involved in the technical aspects of the production, Lee said.

New to CST this season are two management interns, thanks to a grant through the Foundation for the Enhancement of Mitchell County. They will be working in the marketing and box office areas. One of them will be familiar to many – Erica Nasstrom of Osage, who was part of the “9 to 5” cast in 2019. 

Show dates:

“Hello, Dolly!” June 13-23

“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” June 27-July 7

“Once Upon a Mattress,” July 11-21

“School of Rock,” July 25-Aug. 4

For more information on tickets and show times, go to: www.cedarsummerstock.com