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Entertainment & Lifestyle

‘Hello, Dolly!’ brings star power to Akron

1/2/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Shown is a scene from “Hello, Dolly!”
Halle Morse, a Shaker Heights native, is part of the “Hello, Dolly!” national tour coming to E.J. Thomas Hall Jan. 9-10.
Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Randau
DOWNTOWN AKRON — When “Hello, Dolly!” makes it to the stage at The University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall Jan. 9-10, Shaker Heights native Halle Morse will be among the cast that also includes Emmy winner Sally Struthers.

Morse, who was onstage at Porthouse Theatre in “West Side Story” a few years ago, said she’s loving the chance to tour with the musical, which is marking its 50th anniversary in 2014.

“I am not typically drawn to classic musical theater at all,” said Morse, who earned a bachelor of fine arts at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. “I’m more drawn to contemporary musicals, but the show is so endearing because of its story. It’s a very heartfelt, meaningful story.”

The classic musical tells the story of strong-willed matchmaker Dolly (Struthers), who travels to Yonkers, N.Y., to find a match for the ornery “well-known unmarried half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder, only to find that she herself is ready for companionship. The show was first produced on Broadway by David Merrick in 1964 and won 10 Tony Awards — a record held for 35 years — including Best Musical.

Morse plays Minnie Fay, the assistant to hat shop owner Irene Molloy, whom Dolly is trying to match. She’s played the role twice before, and it’s become one of her favorites, she said.

“She is super fun and bubbly and animated,” Morse said. “She’s just a joy to play on stage. There’s the perfect amount of singing and dancing.”

Among the highlights of being in the national tour, which kicked off in October, is the chance to perform with Struthers, Morse said.

“It’s such a great vehicle for a star because if you put the right woman in that part, she just soars, and Sally Struthers, I am not ashamed to say, she is my favorite by far,” Morse said. “She takes the role and makes it her own. She’s so funny — a comic genius. She is brilliant, really, in the part. She really makes the show.”

Struthers is best known for her Emmy-winning role as Gloria on “All in the Family.” She also appeared in “Gilmore Girls” in recent years.

Morse said the current tour runs through April, and there is talk of bringing the show back to Broadway for its 50th anniversary. She would love to be part of that, as she spent three years in “Mamma Mia!” on Broadway and enjoyed the experience.

Showtime both days is 7:30 p.m. Tickets for “Hello, Dolly!” are on sale now and start at $36.50. Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com, the Thomas Hall Ticket Office or by calling 800-745-3000. For groups of 10 or more, call 855-824-3405. E.J. Thomas Hall is located at 198 Hill St.

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