It was nice to have her back where she belonged.
“She” was Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levy (Brooks Almy) and where she belonged was the Music Circus, putting her hand into things and heading up an exquisite production of the Jerry Herman musical, “Hello, Dolly,” based on “The Matchmaker,” by Thornton Wilder.
James Brennan’s direction is irresistible. The choreography by DJ Salisbury is to die for.
There aren’t enough superlatives to fit this show. For starters, Almy was a great Dolly, the matchmaker who arranges things – like furniture and daffodils and lives. She makes the most of each scene. Her moment of truth, as she lets her dead husband know she is ready to move on into a new phase of life, “Before the Parade Passes By” was a knock-out, and a solo comic moment at a dinner table was outstanding.
Steve Vinovich is Horace Vandergelder, the Yonkers businessman, curmudgeon and “half-millionaire” for whom Dolly has set her very ornate cap and whom she plans to win under the guise of finding him a bride, though Vandergelder’s chauvinistic “It Takes a Woman,” explaining why he needs a woman in his life, make one wonder why she’d be interested in the job in the first place! Vinovich provides just the right amount of bluster without being too bombastic.
Vandergelder’s two employees, Cornelius Hackl (John Scherer) and Barnaby Tucker (Mitch McCarrell) could not be better. While the boss is away, the two decide to sneak off to New York for an adventure and get more than they bargained for. Scherer is one of those actors who takes charge of a stage and brings an electricity to every scene he is in. McCarrell was the perfect foil and ... well, I won’t spoil the surprise, but he has incredible muscle control!
The two enter the hat shop of Irene Molloy (Jayne Paterson) and her clerk Minnie Fay (Melissa Bohon) and are forced to hide when Vandergelder shows up unexpectedly. The choreography for the “Motherhood March” is one of many high points of this production. Peterson and Bohon are both superb, with Paterson the softer, more mature of the duo and Bohon’s giggly personality well suited to the 17-year old Barnaby.
Also visiting New York are the artist Ambrose Kemper (Efren Ramirez) and Vandergelder’s niece Ermengarde (Bradley Benjamin – yes, Derrick, her name really IS Bradley!). The two want to marry, but do not have Vandergelder’s permission, as he feels Ermengarde is too young and immature. Dolly has promised to fix that little situation too. Benjamin doesn’t have much to say, but she cries just about better than anybody I’ve ever seen on stage.
Most of Act 2 takes place at the Harmonia Gardens restaurant, “the fanciest place in New York.” The choreography for the waiters has always been one of the most memorable parts of “Hello Dolly” and this production is no exception. The waiters – Jacob ben Widmar, Kurt Domoney, Ivor McKay, Michael Ramey and Gabriel Williams – are simply outstanding in the “Waiter’s Gallop,” which energetically sets up the moment everyone is waiting for: the arrival of Dolly herself, singing the title song.
My advice is to put on your Sunday clothes and get yourself over to Sacramento and catch this delightful production while you have the opportunity. “Dolly may never go away again,” but “Hello Dolly” will be leaving at the end of the week.