HELLO DOLLYMusic and Lyrics by Jerry Herman
Book by Michael Stewart
Dallas Summer Musicals
Directed by Jerry Zaks
Choreographed by Warren Carlyle
Scenic and Costume Design by Santo Loquasto
Lighting Design by Natasha Katz
Sound Design by Scott Lehrer
Music Direction by Robert Billig
Hair, Wigs and Make Up Design by Campbell Young Associates
Dolly Gallagher Levi --- Betty Buckley
Ambrose Kemper --- Colin LeMoine
Horace Vandergelder --- Lewis J. Stadlen
Ermengarde --- Morgan Kirner
Cornelius Hackl --- Nic Rouleau
Barnaby Tucker --- Sean Burns
Minnie Fay --- Kristen Hahn
Irene Molloy --- Analisa Leaming
Mrs. Rose --- Beth Kirkpatrick
Ernestina --- Jessica Sheridan
Rudolph ---Wallly Dunn
Stanley --- Scott Shedenhelm
Judge --- Timothy Shew
Court Clerk --- Daniel Beeman
Townspeople, Waiters, Etc --- Maddy Apple, Daniel Beeman, Giovanni Bonaventura, Elizabeth Broadhurst, Darius Crenshaw, Julian DeGuzman, Alexandra Frohlinger, Dan Horn, Corey Hummerston, Madison Johnson, Beth Kirkpatrick, Ben Lanham, Kyle Samuel, Scott Shedenhelm, Timothy Shew, Maria Cristina Slye, Cassie Austin Taylor, Davis Wayne, Brandon L. Whitmore, Connor Wince.
Reviewed Performance: 7/17/2019
Reviewed by Chris Jackson, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Like children who beg to hear their favorite stories over and over, we seem to have a collection of musicals labeled “classics,” that we enjoy seeing – and hearing – again and again. Hello Dolly is certainly near the top of that list. With hummable melodies and witty dialogue, the show never seems to disappoint. With our own Betty Buckley in the title role, fresh direction from Jerry Zaks, superb Scenic and costume design by Santo Loquasto, and with energetic choreography by Warren Carlyle, the current touring production of the hit Broadway revival brought to us by Dallas Summer Musicals, is never less than wildly entertaining.
Based on Thornton Wilder’s 1955 play, The Matchmaker, Hello Dolly opened in 1964 after some rocky tryouts in Detroit and Washington, D.C., and became one of the most iconic Broadway shows of the late 1960’s, running for 2,844 performances. It took home ten Tony Awards, including Best Musical, setting a record it held for 37 years. It has had four Broadway revivals, international success, and was made into the 1969 film starring then twenty-five-year-old Barbra Streisand, winning three Academy Awards, and nominated in four other categories.
Carol Channing, of course, originated the role of Dolly Levi in 1964, coming back to it on Broadway in ’78, the West End in “79, and back on Broadway again in 1995. Mary Martin, Ethel Merman, Pearl Bailey in an all-black version, Streisand’s movie version, and Bette Midler’s 2017 revival are only a partial list of the many wonderful personalities who have taken on this iconic role. Now, Fort Worth’s own Betty Buckley has become Dolly Levi, and makes it hers. The opening night ovation at her first entrance was expected, and the applause only grew as the evening went on. A standing ovation greeted her and the cast at the curtain call.
Her performance as Dolly is a confident, clean, well-articulated and well-sung characterization. She hits the comedic bits like the pro she is, “”And on those cold winter nights, Horace, you can snuggle up to your cash register. It’s a little lumpy, but it rings!” and shines in the monologs speaking to her late husband. “Before the Parade Passes By” is powerful, and “Hello Dolly” becomes as much the community’s welcome to this home town talent as it is Dolly’s return to the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant in the show. “It’s so nice to have you back where you belong.” This is also a more maternal and warmer Dolly than most, and her performance is filled with heart. Bravo!
Lewis J. Stadlen is Horace Vandergelder, “The well-known half-a-millionaire,” and like the rest of the first-rate cast, is smooth and confident in his portrayal. As the crotchety owner of the hardware store, “Eighty percent of the people in the world are fools and the rest of us are in danger of contamination,” I love his vaudeville approach to the role and line delivery. His physicalization of the character, including his stance, his movements, and facial expressions all add hilarity and dimension to his playing. “It Takes a Woman” is masterfully delivered, and hits every comic note. The second act opening song, “A Penny in My Pocket” is also well done, but still feels superfluous to me.
Cornelius Hackl is played by Nic Rouleau with a great deal of enthusiasm and charm, and his singing is first-rate. He too, knows how to deliver comedic lines and does shtick with the best of them. His courtroom monolog is beautifully delivered, full of feeling without losing the overall tone of the comedy. “I’ve lost everything: my job, my future, everything people ‘think’ is important, but I don’t care – because even if I have to dig ditches for the rest of my life, I shall be a ditch-digger who once had a wonderful day.” As his love interest, Irene Molloy, Analisa Leaming is a little bit more acerbic and confident than other Molloy’s I’ve seen, but it’s an interesting take. “Ribbons Down My Back” is beautifully delivered.
Sean Burns is Barnaby Tucker, naïve, excited, and literally dancing circles around everyone on stage. A delightful performance. Kristen Hahn is his love interest, Minnie Fay, and does a comic laugh and double-takes that bring down the house. Colin LeMoine as Ambrose Kemper, and Morgan Kirner as Ermengarde, are underused, but show their comic and musical abilities when given a chance. Jessica Sheridan is also a standout as Ernestina Money.
One of the really wonderful things about this production is the consistent level of talent throughout the ensemble, with every nuance clear and clean, the singing and dancing at the highest level. The ten male dancers who do the “The Waiter’s Gallop” and “Hello Dolly” are professionals of the highest order, and their breathtaking performances in both numbers rightly draws enthusiastic applause from the audience. Warren Carlyle’s choreography is athletic and beautifully thought out, seeming to rely at times on the original dances of Gower Champion,
I’m assuming that director Jerry Zaks is responsible for the consistent approach and tone of the production. It is fast and funny, and every moment is clearly taken, with a “button” at the end of each comic bit, and every scene and song. The show never lags, even when it takes its time for heart-felt moments like Dollly’s monologs, and Cornelius’ speech to the court. The result is a show that holds our attention – and delights – every moment. (I found myself smiling the entire time.)
Design elements are just wonderful, with the most obvious being the scenery and costumes by multiple Tony Award winner Santo Loquasto. Every scene is a knockout, every element carefully chosen to establish location, keep the approach to the production consistent, and delight the eye. I really love the shuttered store front of Dolly’s late husband for her scene with Mrs. Rose, and the Vandergelder store is a miracle of detail and multiple playing levels. As an old costumer, I love the bustles, lace, fabrics, hats, textures and colors of the costumes. “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” is a stunner! Natash Katz’s lighting design is realistic when it needs to be, and subtly changes to shift focus, add color, create mood, and emphasize moments. Sound Designer Scott Lehrer keeps a nice balance between orchestra and singers, and Campbell Young Associates are responsible for the hair, wigs and make up design.
Marilyn Stasio’s review of the 2017 revival for Variety says it all: “Michael Stewart’s cheerful message (Poached from Thornton Wilder) is that it’s never too late to come in from the cold and march in the great parade of life.” Every element of this production works together to create this optimistic and warm-hearted invitation to join in the celebration.
Going back to an old favorite movie, novel, or stage show may sometimes be disappointing. Things change, we change, life goes on, and what we remember with rosy nostalgia may turn out to no longer be so satisfying. Well, not this production of Hello Dolly! It is everything you ever thought it was and so much more. More fun, more tuneful, more gorgeous to look at, and certainly, with this cast, more wonderful to watch and listen to. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by: a parade this terrific doesn’t come to our streets that often!
“As my late husband, Ephraim Levi, used to say, ‘If you have to live from hand-to-mouth, you’d better be ambidextrous.’”
Dallas Summer Musicals
The Music Hall at Fair Park
909 1st Avenue, Dallas, TX 75210
Final Performance on July the 28th
Tickets $20.00 to $135.00, subject to change
For More Information go to: dallassummermusical.org
or call 800-982-2728