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Theatre In The Park
Betty Buckley & the Hello, Dolly! National Tour Company - 2018. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.
Almost every theatregoer knows the story of charming matchmaker and major meddler, Dolly Levi (Betty Buckley). However, her story has never been told in a bigger, bolder, or more fascinating way than in the current revival production at DPAC, directed by Jerry Zaks and featuring the fabulous choreography of Warren Carlyle.
The story, set in 1885, focuses on Dolly, a woman “who arranges things” and her current scheme to marry the “half a millionaire” Horace Vandergelder (Lewis J. Stadlen). Of course, she can’t just come right out and tell him she plans to marry him. Instead, she has to first steer him clear of his current intended, Irene Molloy (Analisa Leaming), and ward off plenty of distractions along the way. As one can expect, this leads to a hilarious story with lots of surprises and tricky situations along the way.
When the audience isn’t busy laughing at one mishap or another, it’s treated to incredible, larger-than-life musical numbers. Carlyle’s choreography is bold, impressive, and fabulously over-the-top. Standout numbers include “Put On Your Sunday Clothes,” which features the whole cast decked out in colorful costumes and twirling parasols, and “The Waiters’ Gallop,” where waiters gracefully twirl and leap with silver serving plates in their hands. And, on a smaller, softer scale, “It Only Takes a Moment” is one of the show’s sweetest numbers and adds real heart to the production.
The musical numbers, bold as they may be, cannot detract from the strong performances of the cast. Buckley is funny, scheming, and wonderfully, winkingly lovable in her portrayal of Dolly. Equally charming and funny are Cornelius (Nic Rouleau) and Barnaby (Sean Burns), Mr. Vandergelder’s young employees who have stolen off to New York City for an adventure. Sharing great chemistry, Rouleau and Burns are physically funny and sweetly endearing in all the right ways. They’re perfectly matched with the characters’ female companions, Irene Molloy and Minnie Fay (Kristen Hahn). And, where Leaming’s performance as Irene is sweet and even a little sultry, Hahn’s is hilarious. She steals many scenes with her tittering, silly portrayal of Minnie.
Fabulous costumes, extreme musical numbers, and great acting all add up to make this revival performance one of the biggest, most fun shows at DPAC yet. Long-time fans of the musical and newcomers to the story alike will delight in this feel-good show.
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