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Put on your Sunday clothes and head out to the theater! Hello, Dolly is dancing across the stage of Segerstrom Center for the Arts until January 27, then parades to the Hollywood Pantages Theater from January 29 to February 17. Hello, Dolly! is a feel-good farcical comedy about the meddling self-made socialite, matchmaker, dance instructor, and anything else you need her to be, Dolly Gallagher Levi. We begin with Dolly in the process of assisting artist Ambrose Kemper with getting to marry the love of his life, Ermengarde Vandergelder, the niece of Yonkers half-a-millionaire feed shop owner Horace Vandergelder. Dolly, a widow, soon reveals that she is in pursuit of marrying Horace herself, despite having just set him up with Yonkers milliner and fellow-widow Irene Malloy. Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker, Mr. Vandergelder’s overworked and underpaid employees, decide that since he will be out of town on business, they will sneak out and spend the day in New York themselves. Upon arriving in New York, Cornelius and Barnaby meet Irene Malloy and her apprentice, Minnie Fay. The pairs instant attraction to, unbeknownst to them, their boss’ fiancé quickly sets off the ridiculous farce that allows true love to fall into place for everyone.
This performance was originally set to Star the famous Betty Buckley, but due to illness, she was unable to perform this leg. Her understudy, Jessica Sheridan (Dolly), is an absolute delight! Her stage presence, comedic timing, and facial expressions really bring Dolly Levi to life. Sheridan has phenomenal vocal prowess, making you laugh and cry from song to song. I actually teared up for her Curtain Call.
Lewis J. Stadlen (Horace Vandergelder) is quite the character actor. He has a perfect voice and accent for this role! Stadlen’s dry humor is spot on. I was also delighted by Nic Rouleau (Cornelius Hackl); his singing and vaudevillian stage ability are absolutely delightful.
This show has some of the coolest sets I’ve seen, including a horse-drawn carriage (no animals were harmed) and a steam train. Like almost all large-scale modern productions, the many sets moved seamlessly along invisible pulleys. I would even say that this was the most in-the-moment I felt in a musical in a long time, thanks to the large and intricate sets. The costume design is beautiful, boasting many bright colored Victorian-era outfits.
Overall, I can understand why this musical was able to win a Tony Award just for its revival alone. This was a stunning and heartfelt journey into love and moving on from life’s hardships.