Alexandra Nicopoulos, Olivia Ballard, and Doug Klain (Charlie Arnhold)

All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.

Kelsey Dyer, a student at Manassas Park High School , reviews ‘Hello, Dolly!’ performed by Fairfax High School as a part of the Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

The year is 1890. The United States census reports the population of New York City to be just over 1.5 million. With so much competition, what is an eligible yet talentless bachelor or young maiden to do? Enter Dolly Levi, a strong-willed, multi-talented widow from Yonkers who can find a love for anyone. Hello, Dolly! is based on a 1955 play by Thornton Wilder. It was made into a Broadway musical starring Carol Channing in 1964 and a 1969 film starring Barbra Streisand as Dolly.

Fairfax High School's Hello, Dolly! starred Alexandra Nicopoulos as the titular character, who comes to town on the premise of finding a match for businessman Horace Vandergelder. However, it is soon apparent that she is really plotting to marry him herself. Vandergelder's two employees, Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker, decide to take off and have a night on the town, where they run into Irene Molloy, Vandergelder's love interest.

Nicopoulos's strong comedic presence, spot-on Yonkers accent and astounding vocals kept the show running. She and Horace, played by Doug Klain, had excellent chemistry and their vocals matched well in the reprise of the title song. Other notable duos were Cornelius and Barnaby, played by Will Park and Derek Yost whose slapstick over the top antics kept the audience entertained. Irene (Deanna Payne) also offered strong vocals in her duet with Cornelius, "It Only Takes a Moment."

Student involvement was heavy throughout the production, with most sets built and many dresses designed and sewn by students. While many costumes were well-made and fitting to the time period, a few ensemble members looked mismatched. However, each lady's hat was bright and outrageous in true late 19th century fashion. The thirty person strong orchestra was always in tune and never overpowered the vocals.

Other technical aspects of the show were tackled in creative ways. Songs that featured the entire company like "Before the Parade Passes By" made good use of the stage and marched once around the aisles to entice the audience. The reuse of Mrs. Malloy's Hat Shop as a dining suite was a struggle for the actors, but Megan Cathro as Ernestina Money renewed the energy of the scene by dancing in the soup bowl.

Perhaps the climax in action and laughter was when the police stormed in to arrest the main cast of miscreants and Dolly just continued to eat her dinner. Barnaby rolling around on the floor in defeat and the expressions of the Paperhanger (Shakil Azizi) in the last scene were also enjoyable.

With commendable overall energy and a few spellbinding performances, Hello, Dolly! proves that those looking for love will often find it in the most unexpected places.