Days later, I am still humming and smiling. From the moment the orchestra began the familiar overture, to the cast of Hello, Dolly! stepping onto the stage of the Oriental Theatre to the glorious finale, I was mesmerized. And to hear guests hooting and hollering in the audience throughout this fantastic show proves that I am not alone.
Hello, Dolly!, starring the amazing, Tony-Award-winning Betty Buckley (whom I’ve also seen in Cats and Sunset Boulevard) was the perfect Dolly Gallagher Levi, every toe-tapping step of the show. She graced the stage with humor, gentle spunk and that fabulous, textured voice. The superb cast members, including Lewis Stadlen as Horace Vandergelder, Nic Rouleau as Cornelius Hackl, and Analisa Leaming as a feisty Mrs. Malloy, were also at the top of their singing and dancing games. And I can’t fail to mention Jess LeProtto, who whirled his way through the air and under tables, as the delightfully innocent Barnaby Tucker.
The first versions of this classic that I saw were Gower Champion’s Hello, Dolly! in 1964 and the movie version in 1969. I love the music, story and charming outcome. Who wouldn’t get a kick out of a matchmaker with talents for just about every service including dance lessons and legal representation? A woman who knows what she wants and goes about getting it in a persuasive, yet enchanting way. And who wouldn’t appreciate two young fellas just begging for a “once in a lifetime adventure” and maybe a chance to kiss a girl for the first time?
Buckley and her cast demonstrate that this musical revival, which made its Broadway debut in 2017, is a keeper. Directed by Tony Award-winning director Jerry Zaks and choreographed by Tony Award winner Warren Carlyle, it shines in every scene. The dancers in the national touring show are simply amazing. “The “Waiters’ Gallop,” a lively champagne-pouring, floor-mopping, pirouette-filled scene with the Harmonia Gardens staff, is something to behold. And of course, the anticipation building up to Dolly’s grand entrance can be felt throughout the theater.
“Well Hello Dolly”, the adoring wait staff sings with joy. This gem of a song, along with others like “Before the Parade Passes By,” “Elegance,” and “It Only Takes a Moment,” prove the mastery of Jerry Herman, composer and lyricist. This production also features new songs like “Penny in My Pocket” giving the irascible, yet loving, Horace Vandergelder (Stadlen), even more chance to demonstrate his acting and singing chops.
But let’s talk scenic and costume design. Santo Loquasto, another Tony Award winner, has created memorable sets and costumes for the Broadway cast and for this national touring company. The most notable are those brilliant colors-of-the-rainbow outfits featured in “Put on Your Sunday Clothes.” Each one is more glorious than the next as the dancers and singers march through the streets singing about their Sunday clothes.
Hello, Dolly! is loaded with talent, catchy tunes, and dancing that just doesn’t stop. You can see it at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph, through November 17. Running time is 2.5 hours. Tickets ($27-$108) are available at all Broadway in Chicago box offices, the Broadway in Chicago Ticket Line (800-775-2000) or online at BroadwayinChicago.com.
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