Broadway in Chicago presents HELLO, DOLLY Review: An All-Around Stunning Production of a Classic Musical

 

Broadway in Chicago presents Hello, Dolly:

With book by Michael Stewart and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, Hello, Dolly takes place at the turn of the 20th century, and follows Dolly Gallagher Levi (Betty Buckley, with a stunning vibrato), a self-proclaimed matchmaker who cannot help but meddle in the affairs of others. She sets out on a trip to Yonkers to help Ambrose Kemper (Garett Hawe) and Ermengarde (Morgan Kirner) convince the half-a-millionaire Horace Vandergelder (Lewis J. Staldin, with good humor), Ermengrade’s uncle, that they should get married. However, as with any classic musical about love, nothing is ever simple.

Horace is slated to marry Irene Molloy (Analisa Leaming, with spot-on comedic timing), but Dolly, after assisting in that matchmaking, wants to marry him herself. When he travels to New York to decide if Irene is the woman for him, Dolly follows, as do his employees Cornelius Hackl (Nic Rouleau, with stellar vocals and stage presence) and Barnaby Tucker (Jess LeProtto, a fantastic dancer and physical actor), who are hungry for a night in the city and to find their much-dreamed about “first kisses.” Affairs become complicated, love triangles ensue, and Dolly is left to sort out everything in a neat bow.

The musical is sweet and amusing, and director Jerry Zak’s production certainly rises to the occasion if the constant applause and cheering from the Press Opening audience is any indication.

Gorgeous Design

Jerry Zaks’ artistic team embraces the fun nature of the piece through ample amounts of color, creating an aesthetically striking stage – particularly in Scenic and Costume Designer Santo Loquasto’s creations. In Put on Your Sunday Clothes the set transitions from Horace’s store in Yonkers to the backdrop of the city that never sleeps, the ensemble enters the stage in pairs, dressed in pastel gowns and suits. Vibrant shades of blue, pink, green, and yellow enter the stage, creating a stunning image that brings to life the fantasy of this magical city.

The set for Hello, Dolly! performed by Rudolph (Wally Dunn) and the waiters and cooks at the Harmonia Gardens, the fanciest restaurant in town, has two booths behind curtains that allow for characters to slip in and out of notice – adding to the at times farcical nature of the piece. Rudolph and his employees have just learned that Dolly has entered the building, and then she arrives at the top of the striking red staircase decked out in a red sparkling gown with a feather hat. Buckly wows the audience with her powerhouse belt, and Loquasto’s gown pushes the pizzazz scene over the top.

Broadway in Chicago HELLO, DOLLY
Broadway in Chicago HELLO, DOLLY
Broadway in Chicago HELLO, DOLLY
Broadway in Chicago HELLO, DOLLY

Show Stopping Numbers

In this writer’s view, Carlyle’s dance breaks are phenomenal - particularly in Dancing and The Waiters’ Gallop. In Dancing, Dolly teaches Cornelius and Barnaby how to dance so they are ready to embrace the class of New York, and as they get movement in their bones, a dance break ensues with the ensemble flooding the stage. LeProtto is at the center, sharing his unbelievable ability to jump and leap at great heights.  The Waiters’ Gallop showcases the true talent of the ensemble as a whole with its sheer size and need for stamina as they move nonstop for a good three minutes. As the waiters prepare the Harmonia Gardens for dinner, they jump and move through the space, tossing trays, and towels, lifting heaping plates of food. Loquasto’s set features a grand staircase, and the dancers slide down the bannister, adding levels to Carlyle’s already larger-than-life piece.

Stand out numbers, striking design, and a sensational cast make this production of Hello, Dolly a non-stop night of fun.

Broadway in Chicago HELLO, DOLLY
Broadway in Chicago HELLO, DOLLY

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read — Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.

Cast:

Betty Buckley… Dolly Gallagher Levi
Garett Hawe… Ambrose Kemper
Lewis J. Stadlen… Horace Vandergelder
Morgan Kirner… Ermengarde
Nic Rouleau…. Cornelius Hackl
Jess LeProtto…. Barnaby Tucker
Kristen Hahn… Minnie Fay
Analisa Leaming… Irene Molloy
Beth Kirkpatrick… Mrs. Rose
Jessica Sheridan… Ernestina
Wally Dunn… Rudolph
Scott Shedenhelm…. Stanley
Timothy Shew… Judge
Daniel Beeman… Court Clerk

Crew:

Michael Stewart… Book
Jerry Herman… Music and Lyrics
Jerry Zaks… Director
Warren Carlyle… Choreographer
Santo Loquasto… Scenic and Costume Designer
Natasha Katz…. Lighting Designer
Scott Lehrer… Sound Designer
Larry Hochman… Orchestrations
Music Director… Robert Billig

When:

Running through November 17, 2018
Tuesdays at 7:30pm
Wednesdays at 2:00pm and 7:30pm
Thursdays at 7:30pm
Fridays at 7:30pm
Saturdays at 2:00pm and 8;00pm
Sundays at 2:00pm and 7:30pm

Where:

Oriental Theatre
24 W. Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60601

For tickets and information, see the Broadway in Chicago website.

All Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

Note: Picture This Post reviews are excerpted by Theatre in Chicago

About the Author:

Lauren Katz is a freelance director and dramaturge, and new to the Chicago Theatre Scene. She recently moved from Washington DC, where she worked with Mosaic Theater Company of DC in Company Management, as well as directed around town with various theaters.

Click here to read more Picture this Post stories by Lauren Katz.

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