Hello, Dolly! opens this week at the Media Theatre, and runs through May 24, 2015. This production stars Andrea McArdle as Dolly Levi, and Kelly Briggs plays Horace Vandergelder. This is not the first time McArdle and Briggs have performed together – they performed in Mame at the Media Theatre in 2013. I had the opportunity to speak with Briggs about playing Horace, why people love Hello, Dolly! and the importance of live theatre.

Kelli Curtin: Tell me a little about Hello, Dolly!

Kelly Briggs: Hello, Dolly! is real American musical theatre, it is the real deal. It is one of those shows that audiences will love. The musical is based on Thorton Wilder’s play, The Matchmaker. This musical made Carol Channing an international star. Hello, Dolly! is an uplifting show that is perfect for the spring.

Also, Andrea McArdle will be amazing in this production as Dolly Levi. Andrea is an actor who just knows how to have a stage presence and hold herself on stage. She knows how to make an entrance, and everyone will be drawn to her presence. She is a classic stage actress, and is one of a dying breed of actors – she really knows how to hold herself onstage. She will be amazing as Dolly.  

Kelli Curtin: What can audiences expect from the show?

Kelly Briggs: Having a live audience is a huge and important part of this show. It is a fun and funny show; uplifting, light-hearted and full of great music. The audience will be singing the songs from the show as they leave the theatre. That is what is great about this show; it has a rich score by Jerry Herman that will have members of the audience singing for days.

Kelli Curtin: How would you describe your character, Horace Vandergelder?

Kelly Briggs: It is a blast to play Horace. He is a character that seems realistic – he is a loud and successful businessman, he is also a widower, which makes him bitter. He wants a woman in his home to keep it clean. He is a bit of a fool, but he does not realize that until later on in the show. Dolly guides him and helps him realize this.

In regards to preparing for the role, this script is so well written that the work was already done for me. I just read the play and absorbed the character – that is another reason this show is so great, it is really a well written script.

Kelli Curtin: Are there any characteristics of Horace that you relate to?

Kelly Briggs: I really admire the type of businessman Horace is. Also, I love that Horace grows and evolves during the show. He finally realizes what a fool he has been and grows as a human. He really does care about his family – he takes care of his niece and really cares about her. I just love how this character has a chance to evolve onstage. 

Kelli Curtin: Why do you think the musical Hello Dolly is still loved today?

Kelly Briggs: It is a good classic musical, with a great story, writing and music. It is like a great tuxedo, it is a classic look that never goes out of style. All elements of this show touch people’s hearts. Everyone that comes see this show will leave the theatre feeling good about themselves. It is one of those shows that really reminds people, no matter what their age, about the energy that comes from seeing a live musical.

Kelli Curtin: How did you become interested in theatre? Did you always want to be a performer?

Kelly Briggs: I come from a huge family of artists – musicians, writers, etc. I became involved in musical in high school and when I was 17 I moved to New York City, and did not look back.

I always wanted to be a performer. My first high school show was My Fair Lady; I played Freddie. My senior year of high school I was Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha; it was from this show that I received a scholarship.

Kelli Curtin: What is your favorite role to date? Is there any role you are hoping to play one day?

Kelly Briggs: I would have to say Gus, the Theatre Cat, from Cats is my favorite role so far. I don’t really have a dream role, I usually see what shows are being done and look at the script and see what part jumps out at me.

Kelli Curtin: Why in your opinion is live theatre important?

Kelly Briggs: Theatre is life. Theatre changes lives. Theatre makes all of us think and relate to what is happening on stage and relate it to our own lives. It makes people feel emotions and feel alive.

Kelli Curtin: Anything you would like to add?

Kelly Briggs: Come see Hello, Dolly! It will be a great show that is perfect for spring!

Hello, Dolly! runs at the Media Theatre through May 24, 2015. For more information and tickets visit the theatre’s website at www.mediatheatre.org or call the box office at 610-891-0100.

For more information about Kelly Briggs visit his website at www.kellybriggs.org.

Kelli Curtin is editor and writer for theatresensation.com. In addition, she is a contributor for the online site broadwayworld.com. Kelli is excited to share her passion about theatre and the Arts with her readers. Kelli can be found on twitter @theatrescribe and on Facebook/theatresensation.

Photo Credit: Media Theatre

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