Review: Hello Dolly!


Radiating joy from start to finish DULOG’s Hello Dolly! is an uplifting and heartwarming watch. Professionally commanding the stage of the Gala Theatre, the cast effortlessly brings the story to life. Each individual performance is incredibly convincing and so the audience are immersed in 1890s New York. As a head-strong, self-professed meddler, Dolly Levi (Florence Lunnon), acts as a matchmaker and a woman of many talents! She is in the process of trying to help the half-a-millionaire Horace Vandergelder (Joachim Price) find a new wife, whilst also coming to the aid of Ambrose Kemper (Archie Collins) who is attempting to prove he is a suitable match for Mr Vandergelder’s niece Ermengarde Vandergelder (Charlotte Holliday). Along with adventure-seeking clerks and dazzling ensemble numbers, we soon learn Dolly intends to marry Mr Vandergelder herself but only with a sign with her late husband Ephram Levi. Complete with lovable characters and smile-inducing moments, Hello Dolly! is executed with perfection.

To accompany an outstanding cast is a highly impressive versatile set. Managing to change into a plethora of locations, including a hat shop and fancy restaurant, it accurately captures the time period. Large set pieces create the facade of a street and soon, they are physically opened up to reveal the inside of Mr Vandergelder’s store. The paintwork is detailed and clean, the amount of work that has gone into creating such fantastic set is truly remarkable. The stage team outdid themselves. Although there were some slight issues with set changes, these were quickly fixed and they did not distract from the show.

Professionally commanding the stage of the Gala Theatre, the cast effortlessly brings the story to life

The grandeur from the set is echoed in performances. The cast is committed to playing their parts. Movements and line delivery are sharp and without hesitation. Directors and have created a show that embraces the traditional qualities we associate with musical theatre; glamour, showmanship and infectious energy, but they also crucially have created moments of tenderness. The song “It Only Takes a Moment”, performed by as Cornelius Hackl is a moving watch. Having recently gone against his boss Mr Vandergelder and left work to enjoy life again, Jones’ character gently confesses his love to Irene Molloy (Isabel Askew). Other tender moments are delicately performed by the leading lady, Florence Lunnon. Dolly often speaks to her late husband and Lunnon exquisitely produces an intimate atmosphere as she does so. During “Before the Parade Passes By”, her faultless singing voice once again captures a key moment of softness. Lunnon creates an incredibly likeable character. She expertly portrays a fun and kind individual by clearly knowing her character inside out, evident in her marvellously grand entrance in the number “Hello, Dolly!”. A show-stealing moment!

Some of Dolly’s matchmaking efforts lie with Barnaby Tucker (Stephen McLoughlin), Cornelius Hackl (Samuel Kingsley Jones), Irene Molloy (Isabel Askew) and Minnie Fay (Hannah Jones). As a group of five, they have fabulous dynamics! Providing moments of comedy, the relationships these characters share are developed over the play. As a group, they guide us through the show. All play their characters with precision, thinking about each moment of interaction, making the plot feel organic. Dolly also searches for a partner for Mr Vandergelder played by Joachim Price. Price gives an impressive performance, intricately capturing the appropriate physicality of this rather pretentious character. Painting the story with his marvellous singing voice, he also shows brilliant character development.

A large cohort dressed in historically accurate, detailed costumes, fantastically captures the mood and promotes key themes of the play

The powerful ensemble continues the trend of fabulous performances! A large cohort dressed in historically accurate, detailed costumes, fantastically captures the mood and promotes key themes of the play. With elegant choreography, the ensemble performs dance numbers in time and ensure each movement has a start and finish. The attention to detail in each hand gesture and foot placement tie the performance together, polishing it off. Numbers are visually stunning to watch and are matched with beautiful harmonies. A highlight is during “Put On Your Sunday Clothes”, as ensemble members form the body of a train and use open umbrellas to represent the wheels. The whole number encompasses a key message of the show, to embrace the wonderful uncertainty of life!

Energetic dance numbers, powerful memorable performances and smooth vocals blend together to create a joyous show. Focusing on love, Hello Dolly! is an inspiring watch. A final mention has to go to the entire orchestra. Their expert musical skills lay the strong groundwork for the performers to deliver their outstanding performances. It is evident that Hello Dolly! has been given a spectacular amount of effort, which has produced sensational results.

Image: DULOG Theatre Company

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