Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Hello, Dolly!"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2004 by Tony Annicone

"Hello, Dolly!"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Players closing show of their 95th season is "Hello,Dolly!" which is based on Thorton Wilder's play, "The Matchmaker". This 1964 musical contains music and lyrics by Jerry Herman and is the story of Dolly Levi, a matchmaker in the early 1900's. She is a jack of all trades who also matches everyone she meets and while doing so ends up with a match of her own. This show is a madcap musical which brings the audience into a bygone era filled with excellent singing and dancing. The show is expertly directed by Ron Eastwood and the outstanding music is under the direction of Ron Procopio who not only conducts his six piece orchestra but plays the piano, too. They both chose the talented 21 performers to handle these roles, earning them a well deserved standing ovation at the curtain call.

Ron Eastwood always does an excellent job in his direction of a show, from his blocking of people to placement of cast members to show picture postcard moments. He knows how to get the best out of them and this show is no exception. The gorgeous and plentiful costumes are by Susan Bergeron and they bring the color to the black curtain background in some of the scenes. Ron Procopio's music direction is flawless. From the opening of the overture to the closing notes of the show, the music is exquisite to listen to.( His youngest son, Buddy handles the percussion for his dad.) Ron also gets the best out of not only his musicians but the vocalists, too. (The trumpet playing by Jason Rivard helps to convey the bluesey feel to the title song and the brass feeling in the parade scene.) Lydia Matteson keeps things running smoothly backstage and handles both jobs of stage manager and producer for this show.

This huge cast is lead by Elizabeth Messier as Dolly. She entrances you from start to finish with her high energy portrayal. 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 in the "Hello,Dolly" song where clad in a breathtaking red dress and with red ostrich feathers in her hair, she makes triumphant return to the Harmonia Gardens with the kickline with the waiters, a standout moment in it. Liz also does an excellent job in the Mae West vampy style song, "So Long Dearie" where she chastise's Horace for his bad behavior. She makes the most of the comic and dramatic moments in the show, creating a Dolly to remember. Her leading man, Horace Vandergelder is played wonderfully by Dennis Bouchard who brings this stuffy, curmudgeon to life whether he is yelling at his clerks and niece or trying to romance Irene, Ernestina or Dolly. He delivers the goods in the unromantic song "It Takes A Woman" about needing a woman to do all the work in the house. This comic song is backed by the male chorus with superior vocals and energetic marching. The eating scene is hysterical where Liz cuts his food, tucks the napkin under his chin and continues to eat after everyone is arrested while Dennis' facial expressions and exasperation at her meddling in his life are a hoot. He also handles the transition from hardbitten to a softer man when he finally admits his love for Dolly in the closing song. Dennis does a great job in this role of a much older character than he is in real life.

Some of the highest energy in this show comes from Dominique Doiron as Cornelius and Jay Miscia as Barnaby. From their first entrance from behind Horace's counter till their closing moments, this two guys shine with their comic antics. Dominique's tenor voice soars in "Sunday Clothes", "Dancing" and "Elegance" but it is in the poignant "It Only Takes A Moment" that he shows the character's serious side. (The ditch digger speech shows how he can handle the emotional side of this role.) Jay is hilarious as Barnaby. His high pitched voice delivery shows his talent as an actor and his vocal ability shine in his songs, too. The "Dancing" song shows off his leaping around the stage almost knocking people over is a laugh out loud moment. Their girls, Irene and Minnie Fay are played by Maria Sepe Tavarozzi and Amy Thompson. Maria's lovely soprano voice is used in my favorite song in the show, "Ribbons Down My Back" where Irene longs to find romance again but it is in the "Moment" scene with Dominique that she shows her strength as a serious actress, moving the audience to tears with its tender portrayal. Maria also handles the funnier and lighter scenes wonderfully, too. Amy is hilarious as the motormouth Minnie who can't stop asking questions and she delivers her huge first monologue with the ease of a natural born commedienne. Their humorous rendition of the "Motherhood March" with Liz in the scene where they are trying to hide the two boys, is another comic highlight. Marge Cook does a good job as Ernestina, Dolly's floozy friend who does the hootchie kootchie in front of Horace and makes inappropiate comments all night long. Horace's pretty blond niece, Ermengarde who cries constantly, is played by Erica Agren and her artist boyfriend, Ambrose who Horace hates is played by George Billings. They both get to do a polka in the second act and they finally stand up to Horace so she can collect her inheritance from him.

The other cast members who sing and dance beautifully while handling numerous roles are Holly Applegate, Christopher Judge, Mark Schraer, Sue Bergeron, Lisa Coningford, Kerri Lynn Costa, Daniel Fernandes, Michael Lautier, Albert Lee, Kathleen McNiff, Linda Succi and Dennis Wayland. So make sure you get to see Dolly back where she belongs on stage at Players. Just give Lydia a call or email her at to see this theatre club's latest show. You won't be disappointed.

"Hello, Dolly!" (11 - 16 May)
Barker Playhouse, 400 Benefit Street, PROVIDENCE RI
1 (401) 273-0590

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide