Jane Brockman of HELLO, DOLLY! at Bass Concert Hall

HELLO DOLLY! has entertained audiences since its first Broadway appearance in 1964 with Carol Channing as Dolly Gallagher Levi. While many productions and revivals have followed, the endearing qualities of this stellar show continue to sell out. Currently touring North America, BWW caught up with actress Jane Brockman who plays Erestina as well as Dolly’s understudy.

Tell us a bit about the first time you performed on stage. What show was it and what role did you play?

Well, the first time on stage was for a kindergarten choir concert and I loved singing in this concert! But I think the first time I played a role was in a production of “Wonderful Town” in high school. My first leading role was Laurey in “Oklahoma!” my last year. I’ve only done this show twice in my life and the 2nd time (2 years ago) I played Aunt Eller. Truly a full loop moment!

When did you know you wanted to make a career out of performing?

It was that high school “Oklahoma!” Before that, I wanted to be an architect.

What made you want to audition for HELLO, DOLLY! to throw?

I knew I wanted to be part of the show when I first saw this production on Broadway. And, the opportunity to work with Jerry Zaks. It was really a huge thrill for me to have the chance to work with him.

Another big part of it was that my husband, Tim Shew, was already on the show. We don’t often get the chance to work together so being on this tour is a very special moment for us.

How does this touring production bring something new to HELLO, DOLLY!?

Well, I sound like a broken record, but Jerry Zaks’ comedic direction is just brilliant. And the cast brings a whole new spirit to the show. Although it’s an homage to the original, it definitely speaks to today’s audience. It’s funny and touching and beautiful to watch.

What do you love most about playing Ernestina in HELLO, DOLLY!?

Gosh – I love Ernestina! She really is a “good time girl” and that kind of character is so much fun to play. I get a kick out of the audience reaction when I walk through the curtain for the very first time! And acting the scenes with John Bolton, our Horace, is delicious!

What are the biggest challenges of doubling Dolly?

I guess the first (obvious) challenge is just learning the script. Dolly can’t stop talking! Then, once the script, songs, and blocking are under my belt, the challenge is to make sure it’s always ready. For me, if I know I’m safe with all of this, then I can really have fun in the role! Dolly is such a huge and satisfying company!

One of the best parts of being the understudy is watching and listening to our Dolly, Carolee Carmello. She is phenomenal in the role. She is funny, touching and looks amazing! She really is the best and such a wonderful person. It’s great fun to listen to it every night!

HELLO DOLLY! will be at Bass Concert Hall in Austin, Texas from January 21-26, 2020. It will be great fun to watch this revival keep you entertained from start to finish. Go to the Texas Performing Arts website for tickets and times.

PHOTO CREDIT: Julieta Crevantes

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