Laura Sky Herman stars in the iconic musical Hello, Dolly! which is coming to the Fisher Theatre in Detroit starting November 19.
Featured photo courtesy of Juileta Cervantes
Actress playing the ingenue role in Hello, Dolly! says iconic musical is still full of life.
Laura Sky Herman has some priority interests in common with Jerry Herman, but shared family ties do not enter into that.
Both share a love of the musical Hello, Dolly! — which has his music and lyrics, and has her taking the role of Ermangarde in a touring production being staged Nov. 19-Dec. 1 at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit.
Both have a commitment to visual arts, which he studied as an architecture student and kept as a hobby while advancing his musical theater projects. She studies as an art history major on leave from Harvard University.
Both can link to Woodward Avenue traffic, which inspired his Hello, Dolly! song “Before the Parade Passes By,” written as the original production was having its Detroit tryouts. And she will experience the traffic when visiting the Detroit Institute of Arts for research on her senior thesis about American museums.
And both are Jewish, which motivated him to write the score for the Israel-based play Milk and Honey, and which she celebrated during her bat mitzvah at Miami’s Temple Beth Ahm and is at the heart of her thinking the last name of the play’s main character, Dolly Gallagher Levi, suggests Jewish ties.
“I love so much to be part of this amazing production, and it’s an honor to be a namesake in this show,” says the actress, 23, single and on her first national tour.
“Hello, Dolly! is one of the most iconic musicals of all time — a quintessential manifestation of what a musical comedy is. It’s so full of life and love and so opulent and luxurious that it’s a dream to get to be in this show.”
Herman, who demonstrates singing and dancing talents through her ingénue role in the play about a matchmaker, performs “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” and “It Only Takes a Moment.”
“When I’m backstage watching the waiters doing their big walk because Dolly’s back at the Harmonia Gardens, I can’t help but cheer,” Herman says of the number spotlighting the show’s title song.
Numbers she watched in a touring production of The Sound of Music activated her enduring career interest when she was 10.
“Right after the performance, I looked over at my mom and said I wanted to do that,”
Herman recalls. “I would circle local auditions in the newspaper, and I got to play Gretl in a local production of The Sound of Music. I studied classical ballet, took voice lessons and did shows at my school.”
Special studies outside of high school brought her to the University of Michigan, where she participated in the MPulse Summer Performing Arts Institutes. She recalls going to Detroit to watch stage productions and eating at Zingerman’s.
Other scholarly programs took her to Texas State University for more musical theater training and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in the United Kingdom for coaching in classical acting.
During summers while enrolled at Harvard, she appeared in professional summer stock productions. Her favorite parts included Polly Baker in Crazy for You at the New London Barn Playhouse in New Hampshire and Vivian in Oklahoma at the North Shore Music Theatre in Massachusetts.
At Harvard, Herman was among those changing a longtime theater tradition.
“Hasty Pudding Theatricals is America’s oldest theater group,” Herman explains. “For nearly 200 years, the cast has been all male. Half of the cast would dress in drag as women.
“It was debated for many years if women should join the cast or whether Hasty Pudding would maintain its signature feature of cross-dressing.
“This past year, we’ve finally been able to be cast as women. Six other girls and I got to be in a show. Some played male parts, and some played women. I played a male pirate, and it was such a joy. Hasty Pudding has helped me grow and prepare for slapstick and over-the-top musical comedy.”
The Tony Award-winning revival of Hello, Dolly! has Herman working with famed director Jerry Zaks.
“Jerry was with us for rehearsals in New York, and we were still adding little jokes,” Herman says. “The show is very much alive.”
Hello, Dolly! runs Nov. 19-Dec. 1 at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit.
Tickets start at $39.
(313) 872-1000, ext.0.