“Hello, Dolly” Sashays Back to Us at the Bushnell

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By Karen Isaacs

It’s so good to have Dolly Levi “back where she belongs” – the stage of the Bushnell where the national tour of Hello, Dolly! will enchant you through Nov. 17.

This show has always attracted major musical comedy leading ladies – from Carol Channing in the original cast (followed by Mary Martin, Ethel Merman, Ginger Rogers, Pearl Bailey and more); this revival so far has starred Bette Midler, then Bernadette Peters, Donna Murphy, Betty Buckley and now Carolee Carmello – all Tony award winners or nominees.

This is a top notch replication of the Broadway production, which I saw twice. Not only does it feature two well-respected Broadway performers, but it has large ensemble (over 30 cast members) and outstanding costumes, sets, lighting.

Even the sound design was excellent in the cavernous Bushnell. While sometimes, sound can be too loud or the words indistinct, this production suffered from neither flaw.

If you forgotten the plot, the widowed Dolly Levi after ten years of just scraping by doing a little bit of everything has decided to remarry. She has her eye on Horace Vandergelder, the Yonkers “half a millionaire” who is not known for his lavish spending. The complications? Dolly is his marriage broker and has set him up with the comely widow Irene Malloy, a milliner. In addition, Vandergeller has two clerks – Cornelius who is 33 and Barnaby – each of whom is anxious for an adventure. There’s also his niece, Ermengarde who is in love with a starving artist. You can guess that a wide variety of complications and farce ensues until the final curtain when each individual is paired up happily and appropriately.

The original play, The Matchmaker was written by Thornton Wilder and had not only a successful Broadway run but a movie. At one time it was called The Merchant of Younkers.

Joining Carmello as Dolly, John Bolton makes a fine, exasperated (and exasperating) Vandergelder. Bolton is a talented performer with handles the role and his songs excellently.

Carmello brings her own charm to the role of Dolly; there is always a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face. She is indestructible and will overcome any obstacle.

Though the supporting cast, may not have the credentials of the Carmello and Bolton, they are all excellent in their roles. Sean Burns as Barnaby demonstrates charm and dancing skills, while Daniel Beeman as Cornelius combine comedy with yearning. Analisa Leaming has a beautiful voice as Irene Malloy.

But besides the leads, the real stars of the show are the wonderful music by Jerry Herman and the hard-working dancers, particularly the men who get enough aerobic exercise in “The Waiter’s Gallop” in the second act to last an entire month. They work hard.

Go see this revival. Surprisingly, there are few productions of this show. It’s a show well worth seeing and this tour makes it look like a million dollars.

For tickets visit The Bushnell or call 860-987-5900.

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