Two Dandy Lions

The lavish Feinstein’s/54 Below is gearing itself to present not only just a new musical but a new way to look at musicals. Unique songs, clever casting choices , and a story as powerful as it is beautiful, August at Feinstein’s will sport a stunning concert version of an engaging, romantic, fascinating musical piece called DANDELION

For one night only, August 14 @ 9:30 p.m. we get the story of high school senior, Jane, and her mother, Delilah, and how the two are forced to confront profound questions of guilt, responsibility, and sacrifice as Jane must decide between attending college in pursuit of her lifelong dreams, or staying home to care for Delilah – who is locked in a desperate battle with severe mental illness and opioid addiction. For further info, visit www.dandelionmusical.com.

Female-driven, emotional, and original, “Dandelion” features music and lyrics by Colleen Francis and Bill Zeffiro, book and direction by Jessica Francis Fichter and Sean Riehm, and has been developed in collaboration with Hailee Beltzhoover. Musical Director, Nevada Lozano guides artists Hailee Beltzhoover, Lillie Ricciardi, Allison Siko, Brenden MacDonald, Brianne Wylie, and Miranda Luze.

There is a $35 cover charge and $25 food and beverage minimum. Tickets and information are available at www.54Below.com. Tickets on the day of performance after 4:00 are only available by calling (646) 476-3551.

Packed with vibrant voices, dandelion looks like the musical to look for in the 2019 Indie Art Season. We spoke to two members of the young lively cast about the show.

65641720_3122317337786079_1438118023234846720_n.jpgHailee Beltzhoover: My name is Hailee Beltzhoover and I am originally from Columbia, SC. I’m 21 years old and I have been singing, acting, and performing since I could walk. I consider myself a perpetual optimist and I enjoy spreading kindness in daily life just for the simple reason that I’ve found a smile can take you and those around you a long way. I attend Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC and will graduate with my Bachelors degree in theatre performance this coming December. I enjoy cooking, cleaning, and playing with my 14 year old magical baby dog, Pig. 

Tell us about this play:

Hailee Beltzhoover: This musical is very important to me for a multitude of reasons, some more personal than others. The main reason I am passionately choosing to work on this is because of the message: you can choose the life you want, no matter your circumstances. The characters in this show are uniquely written to encapsulate the struggle and beauty in all of them. Working on this story feels for me very real, heartbreaking, heartwarming, and cathartic. 

How do you approach a role? 

Hailee Beltzhoover: I approach a role the way I feel I would approach jumping out of an airplane: cautiously, but prepared and ready to dive nose first. I feel that it is imperative for an actor to be willing to go to the toughest extremes for a role, due to the fact that this ensures an authentic experience. I want to live the life of my characters. I find a way to become them on some level. 

29511873_10156490465364880_6975776907260562658_n.jpgBrenden MacDonald: I chose to be part of this production for a few reasons. The first is that I enjoy working on new works of theatre when artists get to share a particular story with the hopes of positively affecting someone out in the world. With this piece I enjoyed the style of music and the feel of the musical as a whole and I also appreciated how they wanted to tell a story that hopefully lifts the veil of mental health and how it subtlety damages a family unit. 

What do you feel the responsibility of the actor is in telling a strong tale like this?

Hailee Beltzhoover: For this show specifically, it is the actors responsibility to be transparent as the character and with their fellow characters on stage. The content of this show is somewhat heavy, so rather than putting on the surface level choreographed sad show, I think the actor should take on the responsibility of the character and the characters world and take the audience along with them on that journey. Again, this show feels very real. 

Brenden MacDonald: I think that the responsibility of an actor telling a strong story is to bring a real person with their specific point of view to the stage. A story is made up of so many different parts and sometimes the best thing to do is keep is simple and figure out where your character is coming from so you can help decide where they are going, what they want, and what is in their way. It is about being a part of the collective team to tell the story and working hard to bring everything you have that is necessary to that table. 

What’s next? 

Hailee Beltzhoover: For me, what’s next is whatever comes next. I love this show and my fellow creative team so much I can’t even begin to express it, but I know we will stick together no matter what comes next. We have a concert performance of the show on August 14th at 54 Below in New York City, and that is my primary focus right now. I want this debut performance to be the best it can be and I am hopeful in where it will lead us

Brenden MacDonald: I hope what’s next for Dandelion is getting to the next step in this workshop process, working hard to create the best version for this story to be told. I guess what’s next for me is to keep working at my craft and what I love to do!

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