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'Hello, Dolly,' hello, workload

Laguna Beach High School plans a spring musical with more components than the average fare.

March 14, 2013|By Alisha Gomez

"We designed the set and built it ourselves," he said. "... Another reason why we chose ["Hello, Dolly!"] was the music for musicians, because they are getting an opportunity to play this fantastic Jerry Herman score."

The crew, who Dressler calls outstanding, will use a fly system (where scenery and set designs are on ropes and flown in and out between scenes).

"To be on the crew of a show like this, you have to be on the ball, plan ahead," he added. "There's a whole system of hierarchy among the kids. People don't realize that 90% of a show happens backstage."

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Tuesday night, Dressler plan to run the cast through a full dress rehearsal to work out the timing of music and stagecraft, he said.

It's been a busy past couple of weeks for the students.

"We've been at school till 11 p.m at night," junior Tatum Moore said Tuesday afternoon while getting her makeup done for the rehearsal. "We're all super stressed and super tired."

Tatum, 16, plays Ernestia, a role that she calls "a crazy girl Dolly sets up with Horace."

"For me, it's like I always get cast as this crazy woman, and I'm kind of used to it," Tatum said about taking on a more background type of role. "I've just grown to get used to it. It's like [it's not] a set character ... and I get to create [my own version of] the character, which is such a cool experience.

"[With] the more well-known characters, there's this perception of what it should be."

Time management is the toughest part of the rigorous schedule.

"Most of us get better with our school work because we have to be organized with what we're doing," she said.

Each actor plays about three characters, with three to four costume changes for about 30 kids, Dressler said. He's also hired a couple of professional musicians to accompany the student orchestra.

"It's a really a great experience to get to sit in [and play with] these guys," noted Dressler, who also directs Thurston Middle School's productions.

However, it's the effect on the students that keeps him engaged with his job.

"Most importantly, they're gaining all of this practical knowledge of how to work together ... and make something beautiful," Dressler reflected. "It's too bad all public schools don't have an outstanding arts program; it makes for better Americans and people who can think from another point of view ... higher level thinking skills."

"Hello, Dolly!" opens Friday and runs through the weekend, and again March 21 through 24 at the Artists Theatre.

alisha.gomez@latimes.com

Twitter: @agomezberman

If you go

What: "Hello, Dolly!" by the Park Avenue Players

When: 7:30 p.m. March 15, 16, 21 and 23 and 2:30 p.m. March 17 and 24

Where: Artists Theatre at Laguna Beach High School, 625 Park Ave.

Tickets: $10 for students, $15 for adults and $20 for reserved

Information: (949) 497-7769 for box office

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