Review | Hello, Dolly!: Betty Buckley sparkles in a delightful production

At the Orpheum

Betty Buckley and Ensemble in HELLO DOLLY! Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

Once proclaimed the “Voice of Broadway” by New York Magazine, Tony award-winning legend Betty Buckley is here for a short time at the Orpheum for the touring revival production of Hello Dolly. Put on your Sunday clothes and get your tickets while you can because this is a show not to be missed. Fans of the much-beloved Broadway classic which originally opened in 1964 starring Carol Channing will rejoice as soon the orchestra starts the classic overture.

Dolly is a vehicle show and any production can only be as strong as its title character. With the likes of Broadway divas such as Ethel Merman, Mary Martin, Phyllis Diller, and recently even Bette Midler taking on the role, playing Dolly means filling some very big shoes.

And Betty Buckley? She lights up the stage as Dolly, playing the challenging role with the ease of a seasoned Broadway vet. Tuesday’s night’s audience, myself included, was instantly entranced by Buckley, the supporting cast and ensemble.

This particular revival production of Dolly, directed by Jerry Zaks, won four Tony awards including “Best Revival of a Musical,” and what was particularly enjoyable about the show was the way the key players breathed new life and dimension into roles that have stood the test of time since the show’s opening.

Besides the incomparable Buckley, Analisa Leaming as Irene Molloy transformed the timid hatmaker into a witty and confident woman looking for a little adventure. Her rendition of “Ribbons down my back,” took the typically contemplative and melancholy tune and turned it into a subtle anthem of defiance.

Kristen Hahn as Minnie Foy had a unique straight-faced and monotone delivery that resulted in comedic gold when she was onstage in an already comedy-driven show. Nic Rouleau was no exception as Cornelious Hackle with an amazingly clear and beautiful voice that decadently rang out over the audience.

Of course, you can’t talk about Dolly without mentioning the man at the heart of it all, half-a-millionaire Horace Vandagelder played by Lewis J. Stadlen. Stadlen was never overshadowed by Buckley and rounded out the grumpy business owner with several touching human moments of self-reflection.

The colorfully illustrated backdrops and sets designed by Santo Loquasto added a whimsical element to the musical.

All in all, the touring production of Hello Dolly is everything Hello Dolly should be, a feel-good musical filled with show-stopping numbers guaranteed to keep you smiling long after the final bow.

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