Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Hello, Dolly!"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"Hello, Dolly!"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Star Players' summer show of 2010 is "Hello, Dolly" which is based on Thorton Wilder's 1938 farce "The Merchant of Yonkers" which Wilder revised and re-titled "The Matchmaker" in 1955. This 1964 musical contains the music and lyrics of Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart. It is the story of Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi, matchmaker and lady-of-all-trades who matches everyone she meets and while doing so finds a match of her own. Dolly sets her enormous bonnet for the well known half-millionaire, Horace Vandergelder, and her efforts to marry him. She wants to send his money circulating among the people like rainwater, the way her late husband, Ephraim Levi, taught her. Along the way she also succeeds in matching up the young and beautiful Widow Molloy with Vandergelder's head clerk, Cornelius Hackl; his assistant, Barnaby Tucker with Irene's assistant, Minnie Fay; and the struggling artist, Ambrose Kemper, with Vandergelder's weeping niece, Ermengarde. Through many exciting adventures Dolly gets her man and with a wink of her eye to the audience, she promises that his fortune will be put to good use as she quotes her late husband's favorite saying "Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It's not worth a thing unless it's spread around encouraging young things to grow." This show is a madcap musical which brings the audience into a bygone era filled with excellent singing and dancing. The show is wonderfully directed by Joel O. Thayer and topnotch musical direction by Charlene Dalrymple with choreography by Jennifer Freeman. They choose the best 30 performers for these roles, earning them a well deserved standing ovation at the curtain call. The Parade number and the Dolly number stop the show with their fabulous renditions.

Joel does a tremendous job in his direction of this show, from his blocking of people to placement of cast members to show picture postcard moments and obtains laughs with his knowledge of these zany characters of the past. He knows how to get the best from them comically and dramatically and uses the aisles for Horace and Ermengarde's entrance, Minnie Fay's entrance and the parade scene. The gorgeous and plentiful costumes are by Stephanie Wooley and the fantastic sets are by Gary Poholek. The music is exquisite to listen to especially the strings in "Ribbons Down My Back'' and "It Only Takes a Moment". Charlene not only gets the best out of her musicians but her vocalists, too. The trumpet players obtain the bluesy feeling for the title number and the big brass sound for the parade scene. Jennifer's choreography of polka, waltzes, marching, cake-walk, kick-line, gallop, sword fighting and soft shoe to name some of them. The dances are excellent and the dancers perform her steps in perfect unison especially in the "Waiters Gallop" and the Dolly scene. Special kudos to Laura and Nancy as the horse who does a wonderful soft shoe in "Elegance" and to Krystal MacKneill as the baton twirler.This cast is lead by Pam Sheiber as Dolly She is brilliant as Dolly, captivating the audience with a wink of her eye and her singing and dancing is superb, too. Pam creates a memorable character that the audience loves from "Call on Dolly" straight through to the curtain call. Her rapid fire dialogue keeps you in stitches whether she is teaching someone how to dance or trying to get the man she wants to marry her. Pam's comic moments start off the show with "I Put My Hand in There'' where she acts out each job description she can fill, "The Motherhood March" when she tries to hide the two clerks from Horace in the hat shop and in "Dancing" when she tries to teach them how to dance.. Some of her best numbers include the poignant "Before the Parade Passes By" where she sings about rejoining the human race after mourning for her husband for many years and stops the show at the end of it, in the exuberant "Hello Dolly" song, clad in a red brocade dress with red ostrich feathers in her hair, makes a triumphant return to the Harmonia Gardens where with the waiters she does a show stopping kick-line, and in the sexy "So Long Dearie" Mae West vampy style number where she chastises Horace for his bad behavior. Brava on a job well done! Her leading man, Horace Vandergelder is played beautifully by Omer Courcy. He brings this stuffy, curmudgeon to life whether he is yelling at his clerks and niece or trying to romance Irene, Ernestina or Dolly. Omer sings the unromantic song "It Takes a Woman'' about needing a woman in his life to do all the housework for him. He is backed up by the male chorus in this energetic romp with superior vocals and actions by all. Omer handles the transition from hard-bitten miserly man to a softer version wonderfully during the course of the show when he finally admits his love for Dolly. The eating scene is hysterical where Pam cuts his food and continues to eat after everyone is arrested while Omer's facial expressions and exasperation at her meddling in his life are a hoot

The biggest laughs in the show comes from Michael T. Lacey as Cornelius and David J. Rodrigues as Barnaby. From their first entrance from the Hay and Feed store to their closing moments, this duo shines with their comic antics and rapport with each other. Michael's voice soars in "Put on Your Sunday Clothes", "Dancing" and "Elegance" but it is in "It Only Takes a Moment" that he shows the character's serious side with the emotional ditch digger speech. David is hilarious as the naive 17 year old Barnaby who wants to see the stuffed whale at Barnum's museum and keeps recounting his money while they are in NY on their date. His jumping around the stage in the "Dancing" scene is another of his laugh out loud moments. David shows off his powerful voice and expert dancing ability throughout the show. I last reviewed David as Tommy in "Music Man" for Star Players. Their girls, Irene and Minnie Fay are played by Carole Shannon and Sarah Cook. Carole who is a gorgeous red head has a lovely soprano voice which is heard in my favorite song in the show, "Ribbons Down My Back" where Irene longs to find romance again but it is in "It Only Takes a Moment" scene with Michael that she shows her strength as a serious actress, moving the audience to tears with its tender portrayal. Carole also handles the comic side wonderfully especially in the hat shop scene, the "Elegance" scene and the ordering of pheasants in the restaurant scene, too. Sarah is a petite blonde and is a hoot as the motor-mouth Minnie who can't stop asking questions, delivers her hat shop monologue with the ease of a natural born comedienne while coming up the aisle with her constant babbling. Sarah also shows off her strong dancing skills in the role in "Dancing" and "Elegance" as well as her strong vocal prowess. Their humorous rendition of "The Motherhood March" with Pam as they try to hide the two boys from Horace is another comic highlight. Katia Hagerman is a riot as Ernestina, Dolly's floozy friend who sings "Sweet Rosie O'Grady" off key on purpose, does the hootchie-kootchie in front of Horace and makes inappropriate risque comments all night long. She chases a waiter off stage trying to grab his butt. Horace's pretty niece, Ermengarde who constantly cries is played by Kristen Annese and her artist boyfriend, Ambrose who Horace hates is played by Stephen Benjamin. They play their parts beautifully, escaping to New York with Dolly and get to dance a polka in the second act, finally stand up to Horace during the finale scene. The multitude of fabulous singers and dancers in this show deserve kudos for their topnotch work. This show brings back happy memories for me when I directed it for West Bay Players in 1986. So for a rip roaring rendition of "Hello,Dolly", be sure to catch it at Star Players before the parade passes you by.

"Hello, Dolly!" (13 - 22 August)
STAR PLAYERS OF BRISTOL COUNTY
@ Croteau Theatre, 500 Norton Avenue, TAUNTON MA
1 (508)821-2524

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