Stark ready to play Dolly again


Suzanne Stark is ready to say hello to an iconic role again.

Stark returns in the title role of “Hello, Dolly!” in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of the show, which starts March 31 and runs through May 15. She previously played the role of Dolly Levi at Beef & Boards in 2001.

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“Dolly is smart, independent, warm, funny and very quick-witted,” said Stark, an Indianapolis resident who formerly lived in Carmel. “She is ordinary and grand at the same time, bigger than life, with a passion for seeing that others find the people they should share their lives with. I think part of that passion is because she had a soulmate that she dearly loved and lost. Eventually, she realizes that what she remembers best about him is his joy for living, and that she needs to reignite her love for life, for herself as well as her matchmaking clients. She expresses herself in quick dialogue and larger-than-life musical numbers that are an absolute joy to deliver. I think they bring joy to the audience.

“What could be better than that? She is a marvelous and layered character and absolutely one of my favorite roles to date.”

Stark’s first professional role after graduating college was in “Hello, Dolly!” as Horace Vandegelder’s niece, Ermengarde, at The Enchanted Hills Playhouse in Syracuse in northern Indiana.

Stark said she loves all the songs.

“‘Before the Parade Passes By’ is lovely because it starts with a yearning to begin living again, to not allow life to simply pass by, and ends triumphantly engaged with the thrill of joining the parade as a participant, not just a bystander,” Stark said. “‘So Long Dearie’ is very fun to deliver, tongue-in-cheek and cheeky. The two songs that are the loveliest I have never had the opportunity to perform, but they are nonetheless favorites, ‘Ribbons Down My Back’ and ‘It Only Takes A Moment.’ So touching, both of them.”

Playing Dolly the first time provided a new challenge for Stark.

“I had always sung lyric soprano roles in my theatrical career, so having the opportunity to perform a role originally written for Ethel Merman was a challenge vocally, but one that was so satisfying,” she said.