The musical “Hello, Dolly!” continues to endear audiences more than 60 years after its debut because of its farcical storyline, memorable music and relatable yet offbeat characters.
Led by Betty Buckley and aided by northeast Mesa native Connor Wince, the national tour of “Hello, Dolly!” is keeping the musical alive. It runs at ASU Gammage through Jan. 13.
“Hello, Dolly!” follows widowed socialite Dolly Gallagher Levi (Buckley), who is enlisted to play matchmaker for cantankerous “half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder, but ultimately has a more devious plot in mind to land herself a husband.
She also is enlisted to help artist Ambrose Kemper, who is in love with Horace’s niece, Ermengarde, and is joined in her hijinks by hotel clerks Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker.
Created by Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart, “Hello, Dolly!” debuted on Broadway in 1964 and was revived in 2017, subsequently winning four Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical.
The national tour also stars Lewis Stadlen, as Horace Vandergelder; Garett Hawe, as Ambrose Kemper; Morgan Kirner, as Ermengarde; Nic Rouleau, as Cornelius Hackl, and Jess LeProtto, as Barnaby Tucker.
An ensemble member, Wince graduated from Red Mountain High School in northeast Mesa and earned a journalism degree from Arizona State. While growing up in Arizona, the actor performed with the East Valley Children’s Theatre, Prather Entertainment Group and Hale Centre Theatre.
“Hello, Dolly!” is the actor’s second national tour. He has been in the ensemble cast for the national tour of “The Little Mermaid.”
When he steps on the Gammage stage with this national tour he expects to see a many familiar faces.
“My mom has invited just about everyone I know in Arizona. It’s really exciting to be able to go home and perform my show there,” Wince said.
Wince added that the show’s positive message speaks to him.
“The show is all about the joy in the world.”
He says the production doesn’t rely on technical elements or special effects. Instead, it focuses on the quirky storyline and characters, as well as big production numbers.
“It’s definitely very traditional Broadway style, with a lot of ballet in the show,” Wince said. “It’s really based in what musical theater was, and I think that’s something we’re all proud of.”
He said the show’s humor still stands up.
“I think it’s probably much more comedic than people would expect from it,” Wince said. “People are usually hysterically laughing by the end of it.”
“Hello, Dolly!” has challenged the actor because it is such a dance-heavy show, especially for ensemble members.
“There were dance moves I had to really practice during rehearsal to get them right,” he said. “I think that’s one of the prideful things about the show. We really worked hard to get it where it is.”
In the production, the ensemble members play a variety of characters, including townspeople and waiters. Wince says when playing each character he tries to have a specific focus.
“When I’m playing a waiter, it’s really just about pride,” Wince said. “We’re very astute and put together as opposed to when I’m a polka-competition dancer. I’m usually a little bit more wacky.”
The show leans toward ballet, but the dancers showcase their polka skills during the competition scene. In one of Wince’s favorite scenes, Dolly shows Cornelius and Barnaby how to dance.
“It turns into a huge dance number with all of the ensemble. It really is just a moment that is all about the joy of dancing,” Wince said.
Wince became involved in theater and started taking vocal lessons at a young age but didn’t start dance classes until age 17. Through middle school, he did gymnastics, training that has served him well as an actor.
“I think that helped me in knowing my body, controlling it. In 90 percent of my shows I’ve done as an adult, I’ve tumbled,” Wince said.
Growing up, he was the only performer in his family and would often put on shows for his family.
“I have quite a few embarrassing home videos of me putting on some dance performances,” Wince said.
On a more serious note, Wince performed in the Hale Centre Theatre’s “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” which led him on his path as a performer.
“That was the first time that I realized my strengths as a dancer and began to realize how much I really enjoyed doing that. I’ve always loved being in the ensemble. I think it’s such an impactful and powerful job,” Wince said.