Broadway Veteran Jacquelyn Piro Donovan Stars in North Carolina Theatre’s “Hello, Dolly!”

Donovan Jacquelyn in Hello Dolly at NC Theatre
Donovan Jacquelyn
Donovan Jacquelyn in Hello Dolly at NC Theatre
Jacquelyn Donovan

North Carolina Theatre will present a gala production of Hello, Dolly!, starring Broadway veteran Jacquelyn Piro Donovan as merry fin de siècle matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi, on May 7 and 8 and 10-15 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh, NC. Donovan, who is the only actress to play both Cosette and Fantine in Les Misérables on Broadway, replaces television and movie star and three-time Golden Globe winner Cybill Shepherd (“Moonlighting,” “Cybill”), who had to withdraw due to an offstage leg injury.

“I first saw Hello, Dolly! — starring Carol Channing — when I was a student at New York University,” recalls NCT artistic director Casey Hushion. “This is my first time directing the show!”

She adds, “Hello, Dolly![, which made its Broadway debut on Jan. 16, 1964,] is based on Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker [1955], with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman [and book by Michael Stewart]. Dolly held the record for winning 11 Tony Awards® for 37 years until The Producers broke it in 2001.

Hello, Dolly! [takes the audience] on a whirlwind race around New York at the turn of the 20th century, as we follow the adventures of America’s most beloved matchmaker,” says Casey Hushion, who served as assistant director of the Broadway, West End, and the National Tour productions of The Drowsy Chaperone, which won five 2006 Tonys.

Hushion admits, “I love the challenge of taking a classic musical and discovering the way to make fresh and relevant. I was also attracted to the show’s theme of choosing to make your life an adventure. I think the show has wonderful things to say about making choices that are based in faith and love and not in fear….

“As you may know,” Casey Hushion adds, “the particular challenge with [staging] this show [for the North Carolina Theatre] was having to replace our leading lady half way through the rehearsal process. We were fortunate to replace Cybill Shepherd with Jackie Piro Donovan, a Broadway veteran whose spirit perfectly embodies the iconic character of Dolly Levi.”

In addition to Jackie Donovan as Dolly Levi, the North Carolina Theatre cast for Hello, Dolly! Includes Stephen Godwin as Yonkers; NY hay-and-feed store merchant and the well-known half-a-millionaire Horace Vandergelder; Matt Loehr as his head clerk Cornelius Hackl; Jeremy Morse as Cornelius’ assistant Barnaby Tucker; Gail Bennett as widowed hat-shop proprietor Irene Molloy; Halle Morse as her assistant Minnie Fay; Jason Sparks as struggling artist Ambrose Kemper; and Bailey Buntain as Vandergelder’s weeping niece Ermengarde.

"Hello, Dolly!" stars Broadway veteran Jacquelyn Piro Donovan as Dolly Gallagher Levi (photo by Curtis S. Brown)
"Hello, Dolly!" stars Broadway veteran Jacquelyn Piro Donovan as Dolly Gallagher Levi (photo by Curtis S. Brown)

Other cast members include Pauline Cobrda as Ernestina, Hazel Edmond as Mrs. Rose, Danny Norris as Rudolf Reisenweber, Steve Konopelski as Stanley, Jason Mark Durst as a Judge, Matthew-Jason Willis as a Policeman, Michael Baxter as a Court Clerk, and Joey Cullinane as a Paperhanger.

Josie Bodle, Lindsey Bracco, Garrett Broadwell, Joey Cullinane, Meredith Davis, Andrieu Doyle, Matt Gibson, Elgin Giles, Kelsey Healey, Meredith Jones, Julie Kotarides, Nicholas Kraft, Becca Lee, Hayley Lundberg, Drew Nellessen, Kristin Sears, Jared Titus, and Mackenzie Warren will play various other townspeople of New York, the Yonkers Band, lodge members, feed-store customers, Harmonia Gardens customers, polka contest contestants, and the 14th Street Parade Chorus.

In addition to director Casey Hushion, the North Carolina Theatre creative team for Hello, Dolly! includes producer Carolee Baxter; choreographer Vince Pesce; musical director Edward G. Robinson; technical director Bill Yates, Jr.; lighting designer Craig Stelzenmuller; costumer Ann M. Bruskiewitz; properties manager Aline Johnson; sound designer Brian L. Hunt; and stage manager William Alan Coats. The 5th Avenue Theatre of Seattle, WA provided the set; and Costume World of Deerfield Beach, FL provided most of the costumes.

Director Casey Hushion says, “The set is by far one of the most opulent and gorgeous sets that we have ever had on our stage. It is both elegant and grand, and perfectly captures the turn of the century charm of the show.”

She adds, “The lighting for this show is very traditional, with a vaudevillian flare…. [But t]he costumes are all about big gorgeous hats and the styles of 1890. And, of course, Dolly’s famous red dress and feather head piece will not disappoint!”

Moreover, Hushion says, “The 22-piece orchestra playing this gorgeous Jerry Herman score should not be missed!”

SECOND OPINION: May 3rd and two May 5th Raleigh, NC News & Observer previews, all by David Menconi:,, and; May 2nd Durham, NC Independent Weekly preview by Zach Smith:; and May 2nd New York City preview by Andrew Gans:

The North Carolina Theatre presents HELLO, DOLLY!, starring Jacquelyn Piro Donovan as Dolly Levi, at 2 and 8 p.m. May 7, 2 and 7 p.m. May 8, 8 p.m. May 10-13, and 2 and 8 p.m. May 14 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.

TICKETS: $25-$75.


NCT Box Office: 919/831-6941, ext. 6944;; or

Ticketmaster: 800/745-3000 or

GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919/831-6941, ext. 6944;; or








NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh ( will audio describe the 2 p.m. May 14th performance, which will also be sign-language interpreted.


The Musical: (Tams-Witmark Music Library, Inc.),,_Dolly!_(musical) (Wikipedia), and (Internet Broadway Database).

The Film:,_Dolly!_(film) (Wikipedia) and (Internet Movie Database).

Jerry Herman: (official website) and (Wikipedia).

Michael Stewart: (Wikipedia).

Thornton Wilder: (Thornton Wilder Estate), (Thornton Wilder Society), and (Wikipedia).

Jacquelyn Piro Donovan: (Wikipedia) and (Internet Broadway Database).


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click

By Robert W. McDowell

Robert W. McDowell is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer, editor, and critic. He has written theater, film, book, and music previews and reviews for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, and Classical Voice of North Carolina, all based in Raleigh. In 1980-91, he covered business, industry, government, and education for (We the People of) North Carolina magazine, published monthly by N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry. In April 2001, McDowell started Robert's Reviews, a FREE weekly e-mail newsletter that provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the performing arts in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. Triangle Review is the latest-and-greatest version of McDowell's original newsletter. (To start your FREE subscription, e-mail robertm748[at] and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) From December 1980 until September 2017, McDowell served on the board of directors of The Cinema, Inc., a Raleigh-based nonprofit film society formed in 1966. He currently publishes a weekly list of FREE advance screenings of movies in the Triangle area. (To have your e-mail address added to this FREE list, e-mail robertm748[at] and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.) McDowell also co-edited and supervised the production of Jim Valvano's Guide to Great Eating (JTV Enterprises, 1984), a 224-page sports celebrity cookbook; and he served as a fact checker for Valvano: They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead (Pocket Books, 1991).

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