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Hello, Dolly! ~ The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Jordan Wright
June 8, 2019 

There’s nothing like a rip-roaring, old school, Broadway musical to get the heart pumping and the toes tapping.  In Hello, Dolly! the music and lyrics of  Jerry Herman, one of the greatest composers of the Great White Way, will do just that.  You just have to refrain from singing along… out loud.

Betty Buckley in Hello, Dolly! National Tour ~ Photographer Julieta Cervantes 2108

Dolly Gallagher Levi (Betty Buckley), a Jill-of-all-trades and matchmaker extraordinaire, was the supreme marketeer and an independent working woman in the 1880’s, well before Women’s Liberation.  Handing out different business cards like peppermints, she became whatever the situation called for.  You need silhouettes, a dozen eggs, ear piercing, a husband or a wife?  Dolly will provide.  “I arrange things,” this savvy yenta explains.

Betty Buckley and Lewis J. Stadlen in Hello, Dolly! National Tour – 2018, Photographer Julieta Cervantes

When she sets her cap on Horace Vandergelder (Lewis J. Stadlen), a well-to-do hay and feed shop owner, this clever lady uses all her trump cards.  Now you may think that catching a husband using feminine wiles, is sexist, and there is that to consider, but Dolly’s glamour, craftiness and kindness, is what makes her a believable character trying to survive as a down-at-the-heels widow.  She’s got gumption, chutzpah and charm all wrapped up in one swell package.

Analisa Leaming in the Hello Dolly National Tour2018 -Photographer Julieta-Cervantes

If there’s any sexism here, it’s from the gents.  Mr. V.’s tune, “It Takes a Woman”, sung with the Instant Glee Club, insists only a fragile woman can care for home and husband, rhyming femininity with “work till infinity”.  Oh heck.  All’s fair in love and war.

Situational comedy is at its best when Dolly foils Vandergelder’s meeting with the lovely Irene Molloy, a milliner who has different ideas of the perfect man.  Irene and her assistant Millie fall for Mr. V.’s clerks, Cornelius and Barnaby, who have convinced the ladies they’re tycoons, when in fact they are counting their dimes.  In the scene at the tony Harmonia Gardens Restaurant where the couples sup to pheasant and paté in private booths, Buckley shows off her indelible comedic skills in a silent solo dinner while Vandergelder fumes and the handsomest waiters on any stage perform a highly choreographed, frenetic dance to the “The Waiters’ Gallop” replete with flaming dishes, bottles of champagne, silver cloches and dinner plates piled to the rafters, all cleverly conducted by Rudolph the Maître d’.

Hello, Dolly! National Tour Company – 2018 – Photographer Julieta Cervantes

Betty Buckley, one of Broadway’s legendary leading ladies, stars as Dolly to Lewis J. Stadlen’s Vandergelder.  Stadlen is another award-winning veteran of stage and screen who does schtick to perfection.  You’ll relish the jokes, the colorful Victorian costumes, the catchy tunes (you probably know most of them), and the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra backing it all up.

Hello, Dolly! National Tour Company – 2018 – Photographer Julieta Cervantes

With Colin LeMoine as Ambrose Kemper, Morgan Kirner as Ermengarde, Nic Rouleau as Cornelius Hackl, Sean Burns as Barnaby Tucker, Kristen Hahn as Minnie Fay, Analisa Leaming as Irene Molloy, Jessica Sheridan as Ernestina, Beth Kirkpatrick as Mrs. Rose, Wally Dunn as Rudolph, Scott Shedenhelm as Stanley, Timothy Shew as Judge, Daniel Beeman as Court Clerk.

Directed by Jerry Zaks, Choreographed by Warren Carlyle, Conducted by Robert Billig, Book by Michael Stewart, Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman, Scenic and Costume Design by Santo Loquasto, Sound Design by Scott Lehrer, Lighting by Natasha Katz, and Orchestrations by Larry Hochman.

Highly recommended.  This is classic, old school Broadway razzamatazz.

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