Thursday, January 08, 2009

Hello, Dolly

Matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levy is a woman who arranges things, like furniture and daffodils ... and lives.

In the Davis Musical Theatre Company production of "Hello, Dolly!" — the popular Jerry Herman/Michael Stewart musical, based on the book by Thornton Wilder — veteran actress Mary Young may have found one of her better roles as Dolly. Although the show's music doesn't always sit comfortably in Young's register, she gives Dolly energy and heart as she sets her cap for the curmudgeonly "half-millionaire" Horace Vandergelder (Steve Isaacson).

In the process, of course, she manages to pair up a few other couples as well.

Isaacson is a great Vandergelder, although his chauvinistic "It Takes a Woman" — which explains why he needs a woman in his life — makes one wonder why Dolly would be interested in the job in the first place! ("It takes a woman all powdered and pink/To joyously clean out the drain in the sink.")

Isaacson provides just the right amount of bluster, without being too bombastic.

Vandergelder's two clerks are played by David Holmes (Cornelius Hackl, the chief clerk) and Matthew Kohrt (Barnaby Tucker, his assistant). Both are excellent, particularly Holmes. The two men, who never have left Yonkers, decide to embark on an adventure in New York, while their boss is marching in the Fourteenth Street Association Parade.

The 33-year-old Cornelius vows not to come home again until he's kissed a girl.

"The girl" turns out to be Miss Irene Molloy (Emily Cannon-Brown), who runs a millenary shop with her clerk, Minnie Fay (Icarina Summers). These two, having become convinced that Cornelius and Barnaby are eccentric millionaires, spend the entire day with them.

The Big Apple also is being visited by artist Ambrose Kemper (Giorgio Selvaggio) and Vandergelder's niece, Ermengarde (Josephine Longo). These 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, as well.)

Longo doesn't have much to say, but she certainly whines and cries memorably.

Jan Isaacson is perfectly cast as Ernestina Money, a girl in a buttercup-colored dress and the pink slippers, who is hired by Dolly to annoy Vandergelder and set him up for eventual conquest.

Most of Act II takes place at the Harmonia Gardens restaurant, "the fanciest place in New York." The choreography for its waiters always has been one of the most memorable parts of "Hello Dolly," and this production is no exception.

The waiters here — David Dickson, Nick Jackson, Monica Justice, Andrew Lampin and Adam Sartain — do a credible job in "Waiter's Gallop," also this production might better dub it "Waiter's Canter." Even so, the scene energetically sets up the moment everyone waits for: the arrival of Dolly herself, singing the title song.

Sartain deserves to be singled out as the ensemble member who looks the most comfortable on stage.

Rand Martin has directed and choreographed an enjoyable production, and one with lots of entertaining moments. The dance "Elegance," for Cornelius, Barnaby, Irene and Minnie, is particularly delightful.

John Ewing is credited with scenic design; his work is rather mundane in Act I, but he saves the good stuff for the Harmonia Gardens, in Act II.

Minor problems plagued the opening night performance, with missed lighting cues and overlapping dialogue in spots, but these should work themselves out with time.

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