Hello Dolly! A Freshers’ blog

By Al Palmer, and

Enjoy an insight into Hello, Dolly!’s rehearsal process from a fresher’s perspective! These were written during the show’s Gala week just before Epiphany term. Having just opened on the 8th of February in the GALA Durham, DULOG is so excited to welcome all.

TUESDAY 

After our first social on Monday night we got to know a little bit more about the show and to see pictures of the set (so exciting!). Tuesday morning rolled around and I turned up to a VERY COLD West Gym for our first rehearsal. I was particularly excited as I hadn’t been in a musical since COVID-19 had happened and I’d missed it so much! We got stuck in straight away doing probably the ensemble’s most complex choreography sequence in ‘Hello, Dolly’ which quickly got my brain switched back on after the Christmas break. I really enjoyed the tap-inspired section and I think it’s still my favourite choreo in the show. We then took a trip to Tesco to stock up for the week as catered college meals hadn’t started yet (cry!) and then to do some of my summative due the following week (ugh). It being my first DULOG musical, I was blown away by how organised the rehearsal schedule was and how professional the rehearsals felt. It was so exciting to be around so many talented people who all love musical theatre too. We did some more blocking and then headed to Spoons for some more getting to know each other. 

Al Palmer, Ensemble 

Once this was achieved, we’d rehearsed all the scenes and songs from the show, and that meant it was time to celebrate with a truly bonding cast visit to the most iconic club in Durham, Jimmy Allen’s

WEDNESDAY 

Thanks to various transport disasters, I arrived late to Gala week, having woken up at 6AM to make it to the 9AM dance session. Despite not being members of the dance ensemble, both Archie and myself were required to learn the polka that Ermengarde and Ambrose dance in Harmonia Gardens. It was definitely a challenge trying to keep up with the more qualified dancers, but with a bit of practice it started to become really enjoyable, and we managed to survive the morning with no major collisions. After an angelic-sounding rehearsal of the opening numbers, most of us headed to the Library Bar to make the most of ‘Wing Wednesday’; the most economic way to eat your weight in chicken or cauliflower wings! 

We all returned to learn choreography for the Act 1 finale number, ‘Before the Parade Passes By,’ which was surprisingly difficult when you had to synchronise every movement of your leg to the other thirty people.   

In the evening, we didn’t have much time to hang around, as it was time for the ‘Anything but a cup’ house gallop (special mention to Damola for drinking out of a rubber glove – a real testament to Gala dedication in all its forms). The gallop was a great opportunity for getting to know the cast members and also revealed some highly incriminating ‘silly fresh’ stories!   

Charlie Holliday, Ermengarde Vandergelder 

After an angelic-sounding rehearsal of the opening numbers, most of us headed to the Library Bar to make the most of ‘Wing Wednesday’; the most economic way to eat your weight in chicken or cauliflower wings!

THURSDAY 

Thursday morning started off with a lie-in as rehearsals began at 12PM for ensemble that day. The energy provided by some nourishing cocoa pops gave us the boost we needed before heading over to west gym.  

West Gym was verging on Baltic, but it was a perfect excuse for everyone to bring excessively cosy hot water bottles and blankets. Even certain castmates who had previously claimed to be, “warm people,” were spotted wearing gloves and scarves! After some quick blocking for “It Only Takes a Moment,” we started a warm-up with Hannah and Daisy (our choreographers) before running through the ensemble numbers. Once we spent time recapping our numbers and tidying up dances, it was time for lunch. Most of us trekked down to Tesco for a gourmet meal deal. The break was longer for the ensemble, so most of the cast turned to dissertation work, catching up on reading and summatives, or (arguably most importantly) writing new musicals.  

Along with other castmates, Xanthe and I had to come back from our break a little early to film interviews for a “Hello, Dolly!” promotional video. The day before, we were sent questions that the interviewers were likely to ask. All of us reassembled by 4PM to put together the singing and choreography in, “Put on Your Sunday Clothes,” with Monty and Elysia (our Orchestral Musical Director and Assistant!) before learning the “Finale Ultimo.” The day ended with a sweet little feast/potluck in Stephen’s house. DULOG social secretaries, Izzy and Stephen, really made the week so welcoming, especially for us freshers who didn’t know a lot of the cast before Gala week. The entire cast and creative team put so much effort into the show and we can only hope you’ll love watching it as much as we’ve loved being involved in it! 

Alexandra Tyler, Ensemble 

Thursday morning started off with a lie-in as rehearsals began at 12PM for ensemble that day. The energy provided by some nourishing cocoa pops gave us the boost we needed before heading over to west gym

FRIDAY 

The big thing scheduled for Friday was the stitching together of Act 2 Scene 2, which is essentially the scene where all the different storylines of the show converge in a big tangle at Harmonia Gardens. This was a really difficult scene that relied on both spatial awareness to know where various actors were sitting and a good memory to remember where various pieces of set were marked. This took up most of the morning due to its complexity, but we all eventually figured it out, much to everyone’s relief.  

In the afternoon, we brought together probably my favourite number of the show, the Finale which incorporates all of the songs from the show into one. Once this was achieved, we’d rehearsed all the scenes and songs from the show, and that meant it was time to celebrate with a truly bonding cast visit to the most iconic club in Durham, Jimmy Allen’s. 

Charlie Holliday, Ermengarde Vandergelder  

Image credit: DULOG Theatre Company

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