'Hello, Dolly!' actress loves the show, the songs, the character - everything but the corsets

Debi Guthery preps for role in Naples Players musical that opens Feb. 29

James Little, Jane Armstrong, Debi Guthery, Laura Needle and Jake Hanson in 'Hello, Dolly!' 'Hello, Dolly!' runs Feb. 29 - March 31 at Sugden Community Theatre. Tickets are $35 for adults and $15 for children 18. Call 239- 263-7990 or online at www.naplesplayers.org/tickets.

Courtesy The Naples Players

James Little, Jane Armstrong, Debi Guthery, Laura Needle and Jake Hanson in "Hello, Dolly!" "Hello, Dolly!" runs Feb. 29 - March 31 at Sugden Community Theatre. Tickets are $35 for adults and $15 for children 18. Call 239- 263-7990 or online at www.naplesplayers.org/tickets.

Debi Guthery in one of her costumes for 'Hello, Dolly!' 'Hello, Dolly!' runs Feb. 29 - March 31 at Sugden Community Theatre. Tickets are $35 for adults and $15 for children 18. Call 239- 263-7990 or online at www.naplesplayers.org/tickets.

Courtesy The Naples Players

Debi Guthery in one of her costumes for "Hello, Dolly!" "Hello, Dolly!" runs Feb. 29 - March 31 at Sugden Community Theatre. Tickets are $35 for adults and $15 for children 18. Call 239- 263-7990 or online at www.naplesplayers.org/tickets.

Video from YouTube

What:Musical about the New York City adventures of Dolly Levi

When:8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sundays through March 31

Where:701 5th Avenue South, Naples

Cost:$35

Information:(239) 263-7990, naplesplayers.com

On the Web: Sign up to receive more theater news from the Stage Door blog via email.

— Debi Guthery knows that people will be looking at her as she performs in the Naples Players production of "Hello, Dolly!" After all, she's the titular Dolly Levi, an iconic role made famous by none other than Carol Channing. She's up for the task though.

"The role of Dolly is so well written," Guthery said. "It is fun playing such a postive person and a character that every one else in the show likes."

"Hello, Dolly!" follows widowed but brassy matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi around New York during the last days of the 1890s. She spends her days husband-hunting for wealthy Horace Vandergelder, gallivanting around the city and leaving merriment and chaos in her wake.

"She loves to meddle," Guthery laughs. "She gets into everybody's business, but everybody likes her!"

"Hello, Dolly!" was a great hit for famed producer David Merrick in 1964, running for 2,844. The show's major numbers include the title number, energetic second half opener "The Waiter's Gallop" and first act curtain number "Before the Parade Passes By."

Guthery approaches the character as "the life of the party."

"She's positive and happy," Guthery said of her character, pointing back to "Before the Parade Passes By."

"The message in that song is so great," the actress said. "It makes you want to get out there and do all the things you've never done on your bucket list."

The exuberant show explodes off the stage. The Naples Players production will even feature a brief trip into the audience during the number.

"Hopefully, by the end of the song, people are just like 'yes I can' go out and life life to the fullest," Guthery said. "It is really about 'go do the things you've always wanted to do!'"

The actress is aided in her adventures by a series of fantastical gowns, created by Naples Players resident costume designer Dot Auchmoody and some jaw-dropping millinery from Mark Vanagas.

One stunning ensemble features a white satin jacket with black piping and detailing, a scalloped edge, a feature buckle with brass snaps, a collar using antique lace and a wide-brim hat loaded with feathers, flowers and more.

Guthery believes the clothes - including layers of petticoats, skirts and jackets - help her get into character.

"It's a lot of stuff," she says. "You add the wig, a hat and it always ups my character."

The veteran actress does have one complaint.

"I love the costumes," Guthery cracks, "except for the corset!"

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