Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, PA staged the dated, but eye pleasing, HELLO, DOLLY! to a receptive audience who appreciated the performances of a large cast of twenty-eight. It had the old style big Broadway stage feel with nice backdrop, multi-layered sets, beautiful period piece costumes and nicely staged dance numbers. Some of the musical numbers were just average. However some, which will be highlighted later, were truly sweet and whimsical and brought smiles to the faces of the theatre’s patrons. They applauded their satisfaction many times. Truthfully, the acting rivaled or bettered the musical numbers. I never knew that DOLLY had so many comic moments. It only takes a moment to get a laugh, but that laugh lingers and sets the tone for the rest of the show.
The story line is lacking and puts women in a light of almost second class citizen. I guess it survives because we put it in a category of “that was then” because any woman of today would not tolerate that treatment. It’s not abuse or neglect, but it’s attitude. While I don’t think the show itself is great, I definitely appreciated the performances. First off, the Company of dancers and stage bystanders with no lines did a very nice job, transporting me back to 1890. They gave the show a nice feel. Please let me mention to Leo Altafine, Peter Brennan, Laura Chaneski, Lunda Corenelius, Bridgette Graham, Alexander Horowitz, Kierceton Keller, Andrea Lesnick, Bryan Lesnick, Joe Naticchione, Paul Pride, Kristen Smith, Angelica Staikos, Todd Roman and Gwen Vigorito that I did notice you.
Anna Hentz brought her cabaret style vocals to Dolly Gallagher Levi. Her goal is to marry a man with no manners or style. Why would you do this? Money. Horace Vandergelder is the King of home commodities in beautiful, downtown Yonkers, NY. Bob Marcus, a BCP veteran, delivers on the man you want to dislike, but really can’t. This show doesn’t have a “villain”, but he has to provide a gruffness to the part so you as the audience wonder whether Dolly can actually pull it off; have HIM propose to her. Bob’s character has a transition later in the show, which indicates that he does have some qualities. David McCloughan, Jr. pulls off a noticeable and memorable cameo as the Judge. He certainly had me laughing.
The real standouts of the show are the “romantic couple” and the young “comic couple”. Lauren Brownstein and Chris Baron are believable as the romantic, meet by the luck of the stars, couple. Irene Malloy, a widow who owns a hat shop in fashionable New York City, falls for a Head Clerk from Yonkers, Cornelius Hackl. Brownstein and Baron have a special moment in the second act with their duet “It Only Takes a Moment”. Their voices blend into one sweet sound. I was very impressed. Brownstein also grabs the spotlight with a bittersweet “Ribbons Down My Back” which makes you feel sad, but hopeful. Tough to do, but when you pull it off, it is pretty moving. The young comic couple characters, Barnaby Tucker and Minnie Fay, played by Kyle McClellan and Catherine Maeve Logan, really do steal the show. They have you laughing and smiling at their innocence and budding attraction. McClellan is an up and comer, his dancing was probably the best of all on stage, while Logan gives you nothing but pure energy.
HELLO, DOLLY! is staged well by Director Stephen Casey with assistance from Peter Martino’s lighting and scenic designs. It brought joy to Lydia, a shy, but appreciative 10 year old young lady who smiled and enjoyed the “14th Street Parade” scene the best. Personally, my favorite was “Elegance”, a well done dance number that showed off a talented cast. HELLO, DOLLY! has its weaknesses, but the cast from BCP do a very nice job with it. Allyson, from Deer Lake, PA, walked out of the old Mill with a satisfaction of seeing an entertaining theatrical production. She said she was glad to have seen it. I am sure most of the audience on a cold Friday night had the same feelings.
Music & Lyrics by Jerry Herman
Book by Michael Stewart
Directed by Stephen Casey
November 17 – December 5, 2010
Bucks County Playhouse
70 S. Main Street
New Hope, PA