Piro Donovan replaced the originally announced Golden Globe winner Cybill Shepherd, who bowed out due to an injury. Shepherd was diagnosed with a tibial plateau fracture and a severe ankle sprain after she mistook the last step on a staircase and fell.
In a statement the actress said, "I am heartbroken. This has been a life's dream of mine to play this part and I've studied for the last two and a half months so that when I came here I would be prepared for the intense two-week rehearsal period and the show itself. I was in excellent shape both physically and mentally and this was just one of those freakish things that happen in life. I've only missed two days of work in my 40-year career. I'm just grateful that I didn't break my neck...Those who work in theatre do it because they love the theatre and that was evident with everyone I had the opportunity to work with at North Carolina Theatre. They are simply top-notch on every level and I will miss having the chance to continue working with them."
The cast also features Pauline Cobrda as Ernestina, Jason Sparks as Ambrose Kemper, Stephen Godwin as Horace Vandergelder, Bailey Buntain as Ermengarde, Matt Loehr as Cornelius Hackl, Jeremy Morse as Barnaby Tucker, Halle Morse as Minnie Fay, Gail Bennett as Irene Molloy, Hazel Edmond as Mrs. Rose, Danny Norris as Rudolf Reisenweber, Steve Konopelski as Stanley, Jason Mark Durst as Judge, Matthew-Jason Willis as Policeman, Michael Baxter as Court Clerk and Joey Cullinane as Paperhanger.
Members of the ensemble include Michael Baxter, Josie Bodle, Lindsey Bracco, Garrett Broadwell, Joey Cullinane, Meredith Davis, Andrieu Doyle, Jason Mark Durst, Hazel Edmond, Matt Gibson, Elgin Giles, Kelsey Healey, Meredith Jones, Steve Konopelski, Julie Kotarides, Nicholas Kraft, Becca Lee, Hayley Lundberg, Drew Nellessen, Danny Norris, Kristin Sears, Jared Titus, Mackenzie Warren and Matthew-Jason Willis.
Directed by NC Theatre artistic director Casey Hushion, performances will continue through May 14 in the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium at the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. Hello, Dolly!, suggested by Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker, features a score by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart. Directed and choreographed by Gower Champion, the original production opened in January 1964 at the St. James Theatre, playing 2,844 performances before closing Dec. 27, 1970. The original cast featured Carol Channing, Eileen Brennan, David Burns, Jerry Dodge, Alice Playten, Charles Nelson Reilly and Ken Ayers. The musical won ten Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Actress in a Musical (Channing).
Tickets are $25-$75 and can be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 or online at www.ticketmaster.com. For more information visit www.nctheatre.com.