Most high school productions have a decidedly, well, high school look to them: amateur actors, singers and dancers putting on a show, with the direction of their teachers, homemade costumes and handpainted sets. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We know they’ve got heart.

But Dos Pueblos High School’s Hello, Dolly! last Saturday at its new Elings Performing Arts Center had heart and dazzling production values. Sets, costumes, lighting and music were top-notch, as were the enthusiasm and talent of the cast.

The show was directed by Rod Lathim, founder and artistic director of Access Theatre, renovator of the Marjorie Luke Theatre, accomplished theatrical director, author, photographer and artist, as well as producer of the noted documentary film Citizen McCaw.

Peter McCorkle, a notable force in the performing arts world of Santa Barbara for nearly 30 years and longtime teacher with the Santa Barbara School District and at Laguna Blanca School, choreographed the show, basing it on the original work by Gower Champion.

The impressive student orchestra was directed and conducted by John Douglas, whose credits are too numerous to detail, including musical involvement with nearly every school and theater company in the area, as well as playing with renowned musical acts such as The Pointer Sisters, Aretha Franklin and Dizzy Gillespie.

Miller James, simultaneously directing The Drunkard at Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre, designed the opulent and colorful costumes.

Hannah Gunson, in the lead role of Dolly, showed a maturity beyond her years in her acting ability, comic timing and beautiful singing voice. Anchored by this strong lead, the cast rose to the occasion, singing, dancing and acting their considerable hearts out.

— Justine Sutton of Santa Barbara is a freelance writer and frequent Noozhawk reviewer.