Say Hello to ‘Hello Dolly!’

Syd Pierre, page editor

The iconic musical ‘Hello Dolly!’ originally premiered on Broadway in 1964. Since then, it has been revived 5 times and has seen success internationally. It has also been created into a film with the same name. Most recently in 2017, the show was revived on Broadway, winning 4 Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical. Following the show’s closing, it embarked on a national tour across the United States. ‘Hello Dolly!’ recently played at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis from April 16th to 28th.

The show follows the title character, recently widowed Dolly Gallagher Levi (Betty Buckley), as she sets out to play matchmaker and perhaps find a match of her own in New York during the late 19th century. A self-proclaimed “meddler,” Dolly enjoys playing a part in other people’s lives, whether it be through dance lessons, legal business, or fixing any type of problems that may arise.  On her journey to find a match for Horace Vandergelder (Lewis J. Stadlen), a local celebrity and half-millionaire, Dolly accumulates a group of friends, and their own quests for love and freedom are woven throughout the show.

Buckley, a Broadway veteran, shines in the role of Dolly with plenty of confidence throughout the show. Her voice is well-suited for numbers like “I Put My Hand In” and of course, “Hello Dolly.” Stadlen brings heaps of comedic relief to Vandergelder, adding emotional depth to the otherwise crotchety, penny-pinching man. Dolly’s gang of friends is made up of Vandergelder’s freedom-seeking shop clerks: Cornelius Hackl (Nic Rouleau), Barnaby Tucker (Sean Burns), and their respective love interests Minnie Fay (Kristen Hahn) and Irene Molloy (Analisa Leaming). The quartet is full of energy throughout their adventures in the big city, garnering plenty of laughs in “Dancing” and “Elegance.”

While fans and theater-goers alike may already be familiar with the music and the plot is as predictable as construction in Minnesota, the set is anything but boring. Designed by Santo Loquasto, the set is full of color and surprises like trains, horse-drawn carriages, and the ever iconic staircase. With hat stores, hand drawn projections, and fully-stocked general stores, no detail is missing. Coupled with the bright costumes, the visual aspects bring the time-period to life and add plenty of depth to the story.

The choreography (Warren Carlyle) adds a touch of modernism to the show and showcase the talented ensemble during the vibrant and fast paced numbers, like the “Waiter’s Gallop.”

However, the storyline shows its age with the dated talk of marriage for money rather than love and the entire song dedicated to bachelors needing a woman to run a household. The outdated morals show the frequent plight of the “classics” of musical theater: loved but not easily translated into modern day. However, ‘Hello Dolly!’ is so full of laughs and energy that it’s easy to overlook its antiquated feelings.

With snappy jokes and a full-out set, cast, and songbook, ‘Hello Dolly!’ made for an entertaining show, with fun for all ages.