We chat with Marina Prior about The Production Company’s Hello Dolly!

“Well, hello, Dolly! It’s so nice to have you back where you belong!”

And isn’t it just? Welcome back to Australia, Dolly Levi. We’ve been waiting for you!

Dolly has made her mark in theatre history; known for her wit, charm, and most definitely her style. Originally from an English farcical play from 1835, the boisterous female has been revisited in numerous adaptations, both on stage and screen. Arguably the most famous is Jerry Herman’s 1964 musical adaptation Hello, Dolly!. It was a roaring success, winning a record breaking 10 Tony awards, including Best Musical, a record it held for 37 years, as well as being one of the longest running musicals on Broadway with 2,844 performances. Famed actresses such as Carol Channing, Mary Martin, Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler have all tackled the meddling matchmaker, each bringing their own sass and charisma to the part. Marina Prior is, in my opinion, a perfect fit for the role.

A seasoned professional, Marina has a star studded theatrical resume with roles including Lily in The Secret Garden, Cosette in Les Miserables, Hope Harcourt in Anything Goes, Maria in West Side Story, and most notably Christine Daae in the original Australian production of The Phantom of the Opera.

Marina is joined by her real-life husband Grant Piro as Horace Vandergelder, the second production the pair have done together with The Production Company (the first being Dirty Rotten Scoundrels). I was fortunate enough to ask Marina some questions about the production, the cast, and of course, Ms Levi herself.

Hello, Dolly! follows the bold and adored matchmaker Dolly Levi’s return to New York City, and her efforts to marry off the well known “half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder. Along the way, she manages to work her match-making-magic on a few others, including herself. The show is full of laughs, wit, and stunning costumes that just scream elegance.

What is it about the musical Hello, Dolly! that so many people adore?
Uplifting, romantic, joyous and hilarious. Just what the world needs now

Dolly is an iconic role in the musical theatre canon. What does performing this role mean to you?
It feels like a reward after the culmination of 3 decades of working on stage

Do you feel you share any similarities with Dolly?
Yes. Love being in love and loving life and so does Dolly and I also have a FABULOUS wardrobe!

Which song is the most fun to perform?
All of them!

You have performed a myriad of different roles over the years – from operatic ingenues to comedic characters. How do you go about creating such varying and complex women on stage?
Focusing, observing and stealing a lot from other performers!

Do you have a favourite song from the production that Dolly isn’t in?
Yes, Elegance

You’ve done several shows with The Production Company before – what are the joys and challenges of working to such a tight schedule in such a huge role?
Such a huge adrenaline hit. Love working under pressure.

What is your biggest challenge in this production?
Not falling down the stairs in ‘Hello, Dolly!’!

You’ve worked with some of your co-stars in other productions, including your husband Grant. What do you think are the benefits of collaborating with familiar artists?
Completely relaxed, fun and comfortable

Dolly’s known for being extravagant – do you have a favourite costume of hers?
The gold one in ‘Hello, Dolly!’

Can you describe Dolly in three words?
Generous, loving, joyous

Hello, Dolly! plays for 19 performances only from May 27th to June 11th at the Arts Centre Playhouse.

Tickets are available at The Arts Centre website

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of AussieTheatre.com. She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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