By Kathy Flynn
Betty Buckley in Hello, Dolly!
Photo by Julieta Cervantes
The Hollywood Pantages' 2018-19 season is filled with iconic Broadway classics, and none are more enduring than Hello, Dolly. The 1964 musical, with lyrics and music by Jerry Herman, won a record-setting 10 Tonys, and, for a time, was the longest running musical in Broadway history.
The plot is rather old-fashioned, based initially on a 1835 English play, which in turn become a 1938 farce, and then 1955's The Matchmaker. The story shows its age with a few cringe-worthy, sexist stereotypes, but lovingly embraces its over-the-top heroine and her quest to settle down. The story may not hold any hidden surprises, but it's the production and the performances that count, and this production of
Hello, Dolly is fantastic. First of all, the staging. Everything about this production looks fabulous. The sets are lavish, intricate and gorgeous. The costuming is beautiful and the choreography is phenomenal, particularly in the spectacular "The Waiters' Gallop". Every person involved in this production, both on stage and off, are putting in 110%, and it shows.
Photo by Julieta Cervantes
Dolly Gallagher Levi is such a great role, a bold, brassy, larger-than-life independent woman, taking charge of her life and her fortune. It's hard to watch Hello, Dolly and not think of Carol Channing, the beloved actress who originated the role on Broadway and passed away at 97 only a few weeks past. Or of Bette Midler, who starred in the most recent Broadway revival along with David Hyde Pierce. But Betty Buckley, a Broadway icon in her own right, best known for her Tony-winning performance as Grizabella in Cats, and her scene-stealing turn as Norma Desmond in Sunset Blvd, makes this role her own. It's a rich, boisterous, nimble performance full of life and personality, just like Dolly herself.
As great as Buckley is, Nic Rouleau's Cornelius Hackl nearly stole the show. His charismatic combination of comedic timing and stunning vocals was remarkable and he commanded your eye whenever he was onstage. Rouleau made his Broadway debut in as Elder Price in The Book of Mormon, and based on his performance in
Hello Dolly, I expect to see a lot more of him in the future.
Analisa Leaming as Irene Molloy and Kristen Hahn as Minnie Fay, were both spectacular in their roles, with Leaming's performance of "Ribbons Down My Back" a particularly lovely moment. Jess LeProtto was marvelous as Cornelius's co-worker Barnaby.
This current production of Hello, Dolly is highly recommended. This is as good as it gets.
Hello, Dolly plays at the Hollywood Pantages thru Feb 17. Visit
www.hollywoodpantages.com for tickets.