CENTERVILLE — Say hello to Dolly.
Melinda Welch, who is playing the title character in CenterPoint Legacy Theatre’s current production of “Hello Dolly!” would be happy to make the introductions. The show, which runs on the theater’s main stage through Sept. 3, features the adventures of the socialite-turned-matchmaker as she helps various couples find happiness.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” said Welch of the role, which she plays in the Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday performances. “It’s been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember, and I’m finally old enough and have enough life experience behind me that I can really relate to the character.”
The musical is named after Dolly Levi, a matchmaker in 1890s New York looking for a wife for Horace Vandergelder, a wealthy grump. Dolly plans to marry Horace herself, though she doesn’t tell him that, and in the scheming and arranging that results manages to find love for Horace’s niece and his two shop assistants as well.
“It’s a valentine,” said Welch. “It’s a sweet story about all these people who want to take an adventure.”
The musical, which hit Broadway in 1964, is based on Thornton Wilder’s 1938 farce “The Merchant of Yonkers” (eventually retitled “The Matchmaker”). Though many people know it from the 1969 movie starring Barbara Streisand, Welch said she specifically avoided the movie during rehearsals.
“I wanted to bring what I could to the production, and create my own character,” she said.
The soundtrack is well known even to people who haven’t seen the musical, enough so that two of the songs (“Put On Your Sunday Clothes” and “Dancing”) appear in the Pixar movie “Wall-E.” In 1964, the title song rose to #1 on the Billboard pop chart.
“The big belty songs are so much fun,” said Welch.
She added that it’s also been fun to connect with audiences since the musical started its run earlier in the month. Welch has noticed that older audience members, clearly engaged with the show, will even sing along with some of the songs while they’re being performed.
“They come already loving it, and when you can give it back to them they love it even more,” she said.
She’s also noticed younger audience members responding positively to the show, even though they weren’t familiar with it before.
“I think they’re surprised at how much they like it,” she said, adding that they enjoy the show’s sense of humor. “They walk away thinking it’s a fun show.”
CenterPoint Legacy Theatre is located at 525 N. 400 West in Centerville. For tickets or more information, call 801-298-1302 or visit cptutah.org.