Dancing waiters, love affairs and a larger-than-life busybody awaited the audience at Hayfield Secondary School's recent production of the classic Broadway musical "Hello Dolly!"

With music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, "Dolly" tells the story of Dolly Levi, a meddlesome matchmaker who decides she wants one of her own customers, a rich but gruff businessman, for herself. Over the course of the play, she manages to pair up a few more couples, give some dancing lessons and accept a marriage proposal. Of course, a happy ending for all is ensured.

Hayfield's production boasted many fine performances. As Irene Malloy, a widowed milliner who turns to Dolly for guidance, Kelsey Mahoney showed off her dreamy, smooth voice, most notably during the song "Ribbons Down My Back." Molly Dickerson played her gossipy assistant, Minnie Fay, with a winning comic flair. They were matched by the dynamic duo of Danny Yoerges and Robbie Mack as inexperienced clerks Cornelius and Barnaby, who came to New York City looking for love. Mack and Yoerges were hilarious, playing off one another with ease. Yoerges in particular lent an endearing sweetness to his character, especially during the touching "It Only Takes a Moment," in which Cornelius declared his love for Malloy.

Of course, Dolly, played by Kristen Garaffo, was the one who held the show together. Garaffo's voice was clear and melodious, and her one-liners were always entertaining. She was at her best during the pivotal number "Hello Dolly!," in which she walked down a large flight of flashy stairs (courtesy of set designers Eric Arnold and Nathan Smith) toward a crowd of adoring, dancing waiters at the Harmonia Gardens restaurant. The waiters themselves, played by the male cast members, were impressive, whether doing the cancan, singing or dashing around carrying large plates of food. In particular, AJ Guevara stood out for his skillful dancing and constant smile.

The sound, designed by Greg Channon and run by Ryan Kemp, was solidly operated, though the ensemble was sometimes surprisingly soft. The makeup by Apolonia Davalos believably transformed teenagers into 60-year-olds.

"Dolly!" found a warm welcome at Hayfield, where the talents of the cast and crew combined to present an admirable adaptation of this old-fashioned but enjoyable musical.

Laura Hankin

Wilson High School

Northwest Washington

"I have always been a woman who arranges things, like furniture and daffodils and lives." That is exactly what Dolly Levi did in Hayfield Secondary School's recent presentation of the musical "Hello, Dolly!"

Based on Thornton Wilder's "The Matchmaker" and set in 1890s New York, "Dolly" tells the story of a self-declared matchmaker whose ultimate goal is marrying the unsuspecting, rich, crotchety store owner Horace Vandergelder.

Along the way, Levi also sets up Vandergelder's niece Ermengarde with the artist Ambrose Kemper as well as matching Vandergelder's two clerks, Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker, with Irene Malloy and Minnie Fay, a hat shop owner and her assistant.

As Dolly, Kristen Garaffo brought a confident and clear voice, giving her character purpose and clarity. As Horace Vandergelder, James Messenger displayed a husky voice and brackish personality that accurately portrayed the cantankerous store owner. As Vandergelder's clerks, Danny Yoerges and Robbie Mack combined some good laughs with a few sweet moments. Yoerges was quite genuine in his character, which was particularly evident in his song "It Only Takes a Moment."

Although there were a few instances in the first act when the connections between characters were not always clear, the actors more than made up for it with energetic shenanigans -- especially the waiters of the Harmonia Gardens restaurant, who danced across the stage with napkins, trays of food and gigantic cakes.

The hair and makeup for the show, designed by Apolonia Davalos, added to the period of the piece. Despite a few concerns with the stability of the sets in the first act, the set pieces for the restaurant were effective, with two private dining rooms and a grand staircase used by Dolly in her big entrance for the showstopper "Hello, Dolly!"

With strong theatrical and technical showings, Hayfield's production was a night in which "it only took a moment" to fall under the show's spell.

Kat Connors

St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School

Alexandria

Kristen Garaffo lent a confident, clear voice to the role of matchmaker Dolly Levi in Hayfield Secondary School's recent production of "Hello, Dolly!" Barnaby Tucker (played by Robbie Mack, left), Cornelius Hackl (Danny Yoerges) and Irene Malloy (Kelsey Mahoney) are three of the numerous characters whose lives the meddlesome Dolly Levi involves herself in. As Irene Malloy, Kelsey Mahoney portrayed a widowed milliner who turned to Levi for advice.