Granbury Theatre Company
Director – Phil Groeschel
Musical Director – Amber Lanning
Choreographer – Brooke Goodson
Scenic Designer – Phil Groeschel
Lighting Designer – Kalani Morrissette
Costume Designer – Emily Warwick
Sound Designer – Kyle Hoffman
Propmaster – Gaylene Carpenter
Stage Manager- Kalani Morrissette
Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi – Susan Metzger
Ernestina – Katherine Jennings
Ambrose Kemper – Brennan Ross
Horace Vandergelder – Mark Weeks
Ermengarde – Katy Beckermann
Cornelius Hackl – Jason Phillip Cole
Barnaby Tucker – Christian Loper
Minnie Fay – Reilly Kaye Anderson
Irene Molloy – Amber Lanning
Mrs. Rose – Lana Robinson
Coachman – Kevin Lee Baum
Rudolph Reisenweber – Duncan Alexander
Stanley – Cole Brayton Lucas
Cooks –Kimbria Lee Younkin, Brooke Goodson
Judge – Doug Long
Policeman – Micky Shearon
Count Clerk, Recorder – Cody John Mullican
Paperhanger – Kelsey Pavelick
Ensemble –Joshua Carpenter, Brynn Deger, Ruby J. Hamilton, Kaitlyn Ann Howard, Coley Irving, Angelina Lanning, Josh Leblo, Aria Leblo, Catilan Leblo, Michele Mastick, Rachel Kyla Mastick, Audrey Ann McKee, Nate Milson, William Power, Emmie Vaughn, Zack Zagrocki
Reviewed Performance 5/14/2016
Reviewed by Eric Bird, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
This past weekend Granbury Theatre Company opened their production of Hello, Dolly! to a crowded audience in the beautiful Granbury Opera House. This musical has captured the hearts of many throughout the years with its iconic songs, such as “Hello, Dolly!” and “Before the Parade Passes By.” This theatre had a very solid performance, showing us why Hello, Dolly! has been popular throughout the years.
Hello, Dolly! is based on the play The Merchant of Yonkers, written by Thornton Wilder. This play was not well received, leading to Wilder later revising and retitling it as The Matchmaker. In 1964 David Merrick produced a musical version on Broadway, titled “Dolly, A Damned Exasperating Woman” and “Call on Dolly” with lyrics and music written by Jerry Hermann and a book by Michael Stewart. After hearing Louis Armstrong’s version of Hello, Dolly! Merrick changed the title to the one we recognize today of Hello, Dolly!
Hello, Dolly! has been one of the most enduring musicals, having gone through three Broadway revivals. It has been successful here in the United States, as well as internationally for over 50 years. When it was first introduced on Broadway in 1964 it won 10 Tony awards, including best musical. It ran for 2,844 performances, being for a time the longest running musical in Broadway history. Hello, Dolly! was also made into a film in 1969; this film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and won three.
The staging for the production, as done by the director Phil Groeschel, was good, though at times it seemed forced. When Dolly and Ambrose first interact onstage the two of them had to walk to the front of the stage, passing the ensemble to do their scene. Dolly and Ambrose were blocked from view by some of the ensemble, making the movement seem contrived. The space for most of the play was well used, which helped to keep the story moving along.
Brooke Goodson’s choreography, was mostly simplistic but had some very detailed scenes. The movement went well with the characters, though there were a few times the ensemble seemed to be unsure of the choreography that was coming up. This was especially apparent during the “Waiters’ Gallop” sequence. I caught some dancers hesitating or watching each other expectantly which slowed things down. There were some numbers however that went extremely well. I thoroughly enjoyed the “Elegance” number, which fit well with the characters and also “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” which had good movement.
The scenic design as done by Phil Groeschel fit very well with the action taking place on stage. There were several different locations sprinkled throughout the performance, including Vandergelder’s Hay & Feed Store, Mrs. Molloy’s hat shop and the Harmonia Garden’s Restaurant. The Hay & Feed store had a door entrance on the far right, allowing characters to enter the shop. There were stairs going to the upstairs, and also a basement for Cornelius and Barnaby. Mrs. Molloy’s hat shop had an extravagant shelf in the back, with a door for characters to enter on the far left. There was also a table in the center, and a closet on the right which were used well during the show. The Harmonia Garden’s Restaurant had a nice staircase leading up to a double door where Dolly made her entrance. On both sides of the staircase there were curtained private dining areas, which helped to create the confusion during the dinner scenes. All the parts of the scenic design worked well together, giving the actors an excellent place to perform.
The lighting as designed by Kalani Morrissette was effective in illuminating and highlighting the characters. I especially appreciated the spotlights at the appropriate times to enhance characters, though I wish that these had lasted a moment longer. They seemed to disappear as soon as the spotlight fell on them. There was also an odd use of the lighted backdrop. For most of the show the backdrop was illuminated in pink. It always stood out and I couldn’t tell why the backdrop was so prominent. But the characters and the set were always visible, so the lighting design was effective.
Emily Warwick designed the costumes and did a very thorough job. The costuming was consistent for the end of the 19th century for all characters. I appreciated how the ensemble had appropriate daytime attire as they hustled through the streets and the train station, even down to the details like period-appropriate shoes. The lead characters correctly changed through costumes to reflect different points of the day. Dolly starts in a yellow traveling suit as she goes from New York to Yonkers. Later on she has her flamboyant evening dress and elaborate feather headdress for her signature song “Hello Dolly” and another day suit at the end of the play. I also appreciated her white dress at the end, a nod to the wedding. Horace Vandergelder had a few different suits, appropriately matching with his setting: a business suit for when he’s at work and an evening suit when he goes to dinner at a formal restaurant. Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker had their work suits and wore those for most of the play. As working class men who ran off for a night in town, they shouldn’t have had much to their wardrobe; I appreciated this detail. Irene Molloy and Minnie Fay alternated between daytime dresses appropriate for upper-class working women and then nicer evening dresses. I do wish that their evening dresses had included gloves; that was one missing detail to the wardrobes. Overall, the costumes were very well done; they matched the stations of the characters and the time period very well.
Kyle Hoffman did excellent as the sound designer; everything sounded great. I appreciated how the music was at a perfect level, complementing the actor’s voices throughout. This show doesn’t use any sound effects, just many songs throughout the show. The music always came on at the right time with an excellent balance between the volume of the music and the volume of the actors.
Gaylene Carpenter was the prop master. There were several props used throughout the show, including the extravagant hats that are in Mrs. Molloy’s shop and the dishes and trays used in the Harmonia Garden’s Restaurant. The props did well to complement what was going on during the show, helping to add to the entertainment and the movement. The props also gave actors things to do when they weren’t speaking. Cornelius and Barnaby rearranged burlap sacks when they were in the shop as Mr. Vandergelder spoke with Dolly. The parade scene also used props to give the ensemble purpose on stage. Some carried banners and flags while others pulled a float through the crowd. These props were not only detailed, but very purposeful in the show.
Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi, the meddlesome widow who can’t help but insert herself in other people’s lives, was portrayed by Susan Metzger. Metzger was expressive in her role, bringing the iconic part of Dolly to life. I enjoyed how she interacted with the other characters onstage, always being ready with a business card to show her entrepreneurial and meddlesome experience. Metzger had very good vocals, giving excellent performances in the iconic songs “Hello, Dolly!” and “Put on Your Sunday Clothes”. I was impressed by her fluency of speech. The way that Metzger spoke gave such fluidity to Dolly’s meddling that you could see how she manipulates things. Dolly is one of those characters that either makes or breaks the show; Metzger was excellent in making this show a great one.
Mark Weeks played the part of Horace Vandergelder, the opinionated, gruff and very well-known half-a-millionaire who owns Vandergelder’s Hay & Feed store. Weeks was a joy to watch onstage, with a very strong presence that stood out especially during the song “It Takes a Woman”. His tone clearly communicated that he was used to getting his way and wouldn’t tolerate any nonsense, such as when he gruffly tells his niece that she can’t marry her beloved artist. I especially appreciated how Weeks interacted with the characters Cornelius and Barnaby, showing a character that is tough and very set in his ways.
Irene Molloy, the beautiful, fun-loving milliner who owns a shop in New York was played by Amber Lanning. Lanning has an absolutely incredible voice. I would have loved to hear more of her singing. Her performance of “Ribbons Down My Back” was phenomenal, making me look forward to each time that she was performing onstage. I also like how proper Lanning was in her role of Irene. She stood with a straight back and confidence. It gave her character that air of sophistication needed in a potential match for Horace Vandergelder.
Jason Phillip Cole played the part of Cornelius Hackl, the enthusiastic, very energetic chief clerk for Vandergelder’s Hay & Feed store. Cole was very expressive in his role, with comedic expressions and excellent movement that portrayed his character well during the dance sequences. As he sang in “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” his energy was very evident. This served as a great segue into his New York trip where he excitedly ran all over town. Cole’s energy served his character well, highlighting Hackl’s desire for change and spontaneity.
Reilly Kaye Anderson was thoroughly enjoyable in the role of Minnie Fay, the naïve and exuberant young lady who works in Irene’s hat shop. When Anderson was first introduced outside the hat shop, the first thing that impressed me was her strong presence onstage. It was hard to watch anything else when Anderson was on stage delivering her lines. She did very well modifying her tone, from exasperation with a customer to friendly respect for her employer.
Barnaby Tucker, Cornelius’s assistant at Vandergelder’s Hay & Feed store, was played by Christian Loper. Loper made his character very youthful and had good facial expressions. As he talks with Cornelius about a trip to New York, I could very easily read his thoughts by looking at his face.
Brennan Ross played the part of Ambrose Kemper, the struggling young artist that is seeking to marry Vandergelder’s niece Ermengarde. Though this role is one of the smaller ones, Ross did well in his portrayal, dancing decently during the polka competition. He showed the appropriate amount of exasperation and love for Ermengarde, the young woman who wouldn’t stop crying, played by Katy Beckermann. Beckermann did well at crying without being overly annoying, which can be tricky for that character.
Ernestina Money, the eccentric young woman that that Dolly pairs with Vandergelder, was played by Katherine Jennings. Jennings was appropriately crass in portraying this character, lacking refinement in her speech and mannerisms, with a small singing role that made me cringe. I thoroughly enjoyed her performance.
Duncan Alexander played the part of Rudolph Reisenweber, the maître d’ of the Harmonia Gardens. Alexander was consistent with his accent and projected his voice well. He had authority to his tone as he bossed his staff around and his posture showed his excitement when Dolly finally arrived. This resulted in a good presence on stage that befitted his role.
The ensemble for this show helped to create the crowded feeling of New York on the stage. They bustled through a train station and marched in a parade. Their singing was pretty good and consistent. The ensemble dance scenes were energetic though sometimes not in sync. I liked how they interacted with Dolly as she handed out her assortment of business cards.
I thoroughly enjoyed this solid performance of Hello Dolly at Granbury Theatre Company. The skill of the actors and the amazing vocal talent made this show very worth the drive down to Granbury. I highly recommend checking it out.
Granbury Opera House, 133 E. Pearl Street, Granbury, TX 76048
Performances run through June 12th.
Fridays/ Saturdays at 7:30pm, and Sundays at 2:00pm. There will also be a 7:30pm performance on Sunday June 12th.
TICKET PRICES for HELLO, DOLLY!:
Prime Seating Tickets (Rows A, B, C, D)
Seniors (65 & older) or Military: $27
Children (12 & under): $25
Standard Seating Tickets (Rows CR, E, F, G, H, J & Balcony)
Seniors (65 & older) or Military: $22
Children (12 & under): $20
For info and to purchase tickets go to www.granburytheatrecompany.org or call (817) 579-0952.