HELLO, DOLLY! a winner in Walnut Creek

Will Giammona as Cornelius Hackl, Terry Darcy D’Emidio as Dolly Gallagher Levi, Andrew Willis-Woodward as Barnaby Tucker

HELLO, DOLLY! Lyrics and music by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart, directed by Dennis Lickeig. Diablo Theatre Company (formerly the Diablo Light Opera Company) 1948 Oak Park Blvd., Pleasant Hill, CA 94523, 925-944-1565. Showing at the Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Center Drive, Walnut Creek, 925-943-7469 (www.lesherartscenter.org) or www.dloc.org. June 5 – June 28, 2009


Many endearing musical comedies became vehicles for individual stars whose names seem etched in the titles. Three examples are,Yul Brynner (King and I), Richard Kiley (Man of La Mancha) and Carol Channing (Hello, Dolly!). Forget about bringing memories of Carol Channing to Diablo Theatre Company’s (that’s their new name) exciting revival production of Hello, Dolly! When you go to this must see production, sit back and be prepared to be witness to a vibrant show that will have you clapping throughout and humming one of the memorable tunes as you leave the theatre. Bring grandma/grandpa and the kids because it is a show all ages will savor.

Based on a 1938 play, The Mechant of Yonkers, by Thornton Wilder and later rewritten as The Match Maker, it became the legendary Tony Award winning musical in 1964, becoming an international success before the 1969 Barbara Streisand movie version.

It has an uncomplicated plot with memorable, and only one unlikeable, characters who get into farcical situations that Jerry Herman has immortalized in song, and starting with Gower Champion in the original staging, is gold mine for choreographers. It a star vehicle for Terry Darcy D’Emidio as Dolly Gallagher Levi but she, and the lead characters, have to share the spotlight with the fantastic, exuberant youthful ensemble who dance up a storm in front of remarkable set changes (Mark Mendelson). The opening scene sets the stage for a barrel of fun. It is 1896, in front of Grand Central Station, director Lickteig has staged a tableau of the ensemble cast dressed in spectacular Gay Nineties costumes (Marianna Ford) as Dolly bursts on stage passing cards advertising her multiple talents to “Call on Dolly/I Put My Hand in.”

Matchmaker and widow Dolly has set up a potential wedding match for widower Hoarce Vandergelder (Curt Denham) with hat maker Irene Molloy (Rena Wilson) who lives in New York City. Half-a-millionaire curmudgeon Vandergelder, the owner of a hay and feed store in Yonkers has 33 year old, never been kissed Cornelius Hackl (William Giammona) and teenager Barnaby Tucker (Andrew Willis-Woodward) as docile clerks who decide to take a fling in New York. They meet up with Dolly and head off to New York with the rousing ensemble number “Put on Your Sunday Clothes.”

In Mrs. Molloy’s dress shop we meet young Minnie Fay (Meghan Ihle) and Irene Molloy (Rena Wilson). Wilson takes control of the stage with the charming “Ribbons Down My Back.” With all the major characters in place, it is time for complications to kick in. Before they do, and they certainly do, Giammona and Woodward have their chance to shine when Dolly teaches them “Dancing.” The ensemble moves in to aid Dolly with the uplifting “Before the Parade Passes By” at the act one curtain.

Act 2 is a humdinger from the moment Irene, Minnie, Cornelius and Barnaby have a soft shoe routine to the lyrics of “Elegance” in front of the proscenium arch curtain. When the curtain rises there were audible gasps of appreciation for the all white Harmonia Gardens Restaurant set with obligatory (necessary) stairway needed for the signature number “Hello, Dolly!” who is now back where she belongs. The speedy waiters are exceptional in their “Waiter’s Gallop” dance numbers with their intricate and often athletic maneuvers that eventually leads to a riot.

All ends well after everyone is hauled off to court and Cornelius saves the day with the plaintive “It Only Takes a Moment” bringing the Judge (Randy Burke) to tears and Dolly has a show stopper with “So Long Dearie.” One might quibble about the quality of the singing but Lickteig has created a well paced, attractive package keeping the action moving adding clever, humorous and subtle directorial touches.

Running time 2 hours and 20 minutes with intermission

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.TheatreWorldInternetMagazine.com