The touring production of the 2017 Tony Award-winning revival HELLO, DOLLY! has arrived in Chicago with a jubilant, tuneful, and visually pleasing staging. Jerry Zaks’s fast-paced production finds every moment of joy and adventure in Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart’s classic musical. This bright and bold HELLO, DOLLY! offers unapologetic escapist entertainment, but that’s precisely what makes the production such a success. At its core, HELLO, DOLLY! was created to supply fun and farce, and that’s precisely what’s served up.
HELLO, DOLLY! is dressed to the nines. From a visual standpoint, this staging is nothing short of stunning. Santo Loquasto’s elaborate set has been transferred in its entirety to the Oriental Theatre, with several large, jaw-dropping set pieces. Loquasto’s costumes are equally decadent, supplying a rainbow array of colors. His designs for the show-stopping number “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” are particularly striking, making that moment even more of a button in the show (the ensemble’s delectable performances also earn it that title). Natasha Katz’s lighting punctuates each delightful scene.
Of course, every HELLO, DOLLY! needs a Dolly Gallagher Levi worthy of such an exclamation. In the title role, Betty Buckley captures Dolly’s larger-than-life, meddlesome, and lovable presence in spades. Buckley maximizes the comedic beats of the role, but her Dolly is also grounded in true emotional integrity. She is a blast to watch, but she also revels in the quieter, more somber moments that endear us to the character. As the curmudgeonly Horace Vandergelder, Lewis J. Stadlen has gruffness down pat. Stadlen’s miserly, tough nature provides a great foil to Buckley’s ebullience as Dolly. While Buckley also wins the day with her vocal performance, though, Stadlen’s singing is frankly underwhelming.
The supporting players—in the form of the quartet of Vandergelder’s store clerks Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker, as well as hat shop owner and clerk Irene Molloy and Minnie Fay—are such strong performers that they easily match Buckley beat-for-beat. Nic Rouleau has an easy charm as Cornelius; he’s instantly lovable and also shows off his formidable vocal abilities without ever seeming to push. If his act two number “It Only Takes A Moment” doesn’t tug acutely at your heartstrings, it would be quite surprising. As his counterpart Irene Molloy, Analisa Leaming shows off a crystalline singing voice and comic choices that amuse but are never too broad. Jess LeProtto exudes enthusiasm as the young and inexperienced Barnaby Tucker. Choreography Warren Carlyle also gives LeProtto, a superlative dancer, many moments in which to show his stuff. Kristen Hahn makes appropriately broad choices as Minnie Fay, but also plays to the character’s truth. These superb actors are supported by an ensemble equally full of verve and triple-threat talent.
HELLO, DOLLY! provides nothing but the best kind of unadulterated, fizzy fun. Put on your Sunday clothes, pop the Champagne, and enjoy this lush, escapist production.
HELLO, DOLLY! plays Broadway In Chicago’s Oriental Theatre (24 West Randolph Street) through November 17. Tickets are $27-$108. BroadwayInChicago.com
Originally published on BroadwayWorld.com
Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes