SHN “HELLO, DOLLY!”
REVIVAL IS SPECTACULAR
SAN FRANCISCO, CA— The press opening night of the national tour of the Tony Award-winner 2017 Broadway revival of HELLO, DOLLY! was awe-inspiring. Inside the Golden Gate Theatre one could feel the electricity generated by the audience expecting to see, in person, Tony-Award winner for the musical “CATS,” BETTY BUCKLEY, described as “The voice of Broadway” by the New York Magazine, playing the role of Dolly, joined by Broadway's stars: LEWIS J. STADLEN (Horace Vandergelder) NIC ROULEAU (Cornelius Hackl) ANALISA LEAMING (Irene Molloy) JESS LePROTTO (Barnaby Tucker) KRISTEN HAHN (Minnie Fay) GARETT HAWE (Ambrose Kemper) and MORGAN KIRNER (Ermengarde).
The applause started the moment the lights dimmed and the theatre was filled with the sounds of the musical's overture. When they audience heard it, many started swaying in rhythm with the music. When the curtain opened displaying the realistic looking set of the waiting room of the Grand Central Station in New York City in the year l895, designed by SANTO LOQUASTO who also designed the customs, the applause got louder. A few seconds later the audience went silent. From that moment on their thoughts absorved in the action. People were admiring the colorful hats and dresses worn by the train passengers, and outon the street, the red painted N.Y. C. & HH.R.R.R. trolley, pulled by a horse.
One of the many people walking on the street is Dolly Levy (BUCKLEY) who singing “I put my hands in” is busy passing her call cards to the other walkers. Dolly is a matchmaker, but she prefers to call herself “The woman who arranges things.” Sadly, the name is misleading because what Dolly does best for people is to create chaos in their lives.
This time she is going to Yonkers, N.Y. to meet widower millionaire Horace Vandergelder (STADLEN) who hired her to find him a new wife, The matchmaker is also going to go to N.Y. to introduce Mr. Vandergelder to Irene Molloy (LEAMING), a widow living in N.Y., who he is considering marrying. If when he meets her he does not like her, Dolly is going to introduce him to another lady.
But we learn, in the lyrics of one of her songs, that Miss Levy had no intention to help Mr. Vandergelder marry Mrs. Molloy because she, who is also a widow, wants to marry him. Talking to her dead husband as she looks at heaven, she tells him about her plans to re-marry and asks him for a sign to let her know that he approves the wedding.
Inside Mr. Vandergelder’s store, in Yonkers, he is getting ready for his trip to New York. He announces to his clerks, Cornelious Hackl (ROULEAU), age 30, and Barnaby Tucker (LePROTTO), age 17, that they are going to have a mistress because on this day, after going to New York to march in the Parade, he is going to be introduced to his future bride.
Encouraged by Mrs. Levy, after Mr. Vandergelder is gone both clerks, who had never left Yonkers before, decide to have an adventure in New York. They close the store, and go to New York for a day. Hackl even promises himself not to return to Yonkers, before he has kissed a girl.
And to solve another love story, Dolly suggest to Ermengarde (KIRNER). Mr. Vandergelder’s niece, age 18, who lives with him in Yonkers, to go to New York with Kemper (HAWE) her boyfriend, and enter the dancing contest sponsored by the fashionable restaurant, HARMONIA GARDENS, in New York City, and try to win the prize to get money for their wedding.
Center BETTY BUKLEY as DOLLY
Many numbers in the musical were followed by applause on this night, but the show-stopper was the scene when BUKLEY enters the HARMONIA GARDENS restaurant, with the music of “Hello Dolly,”playing in the background, and recognizing her a group of male waiters start singinging the song in chorus, as they began performing athletic dances which include jumps, splits, and Russian ballet steps, as they carry dishes or trays. The music's orchestration is also enhanced when some of these waiters use the covers of the metal serving dishes as percussion instruments.
There is nothing in this production that does not deserve praise. In the role of Dolly, BETTY BUCKLEY created her own version of the character and her version delighted the audience. In her role as Dolly she was delightful. Without exaggeration, Mr. Vandergelder (STADLEN) acted well his role as a man who loves a woman but refuses to recognize it until the end. Barnaby Tucker (LePROTTO) was wonderful as a dancer, and ROULEAU very funny. In her role as Miss Molloy, LEAMING was charming, and HAWE poised in his role. Crying Ermengarde (KIRNER) made us laugh. Their voices are beautiful and all are good singers.
THE STORY OF HELLO, DOLLY!
HELLO, DOLLY!, the musical with book written by MICHAEL STEWART and music and lyrics by JERRY HERMAN, has a long story of name’s changes.
The original story was written in 1835 by JOHN OXENFORD as a one act farce that he called A Day Well Spent. Years later, in 1842, his farce was extended by Austrian Actor and playwright JOHANN NESTROY into a full length play entitle Einen Jux will er sich machen which may be translated as He wants to have a Fling. In 1938, THORNTON WILDER Americanized NESTROY’s play, and when he re-wrote it. called it The Merchant of Yonkers. But in 1954, WILDER changed the name to The Matchmaker. When WILDER’s play was made into a musical the name was changed again. This time to HELLO, DOLLY!
In 1958 the play became a movie, with SHIRLEY BOOTH in the role of Dolly, In l964, DAVID MERRICK mounted the story in a hugely successful Tony Award-Winning musical, that was written by HERMAN with ETHEL MERMAN in mind to sing the role of Dolly. When MERMAN refused the role, producer GOWER CHAMPION who had met CAROL CHANNING doing different roles in LEND ME A HAND a musical review he had choreographed, recommend CHANNING for the role. While many other Broadway stars had represented the role, it was CAROL CHANNING’s DOLLY who made the role famous. It won Ten Tony awards in 1964. HELLO, DOLLY! ran for 2844 performances becoming, at the time, the longest running musical on Broadway.
The SHN and Producer SCOTT RUDIN first national tour of the Tony-Award winning Best Musical Revival of HELLO, DOLLY! excells expectations. The show is well acted, the lyrics of the songs are sang clearly. The dances are creative, the sets and costumes are beautiful and the music is marvelous. There is only one word to describe this production: SPECTACULAR
HELLO DOLLY will play at the SHN GOLDEN GATE THEATRE 1 Taylor Street in San Francisco from now through March 17, 2019. For tickets you can go online to www.shnsf.com or call 888-746-1799.
B-roll courtesy of SHN