book by Michael Stewart music and lyrics by Jerry Herman based on The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder.
Curve Cultural Quarter Rutland Street LE1 1SB To 19 January 2013.
Tue-Sat & 7 Jan 7.30pm Mat Wed, Sat & 1, 17 Jan 2.15pm 30 Dec 4pm no performance 25 Dec.
Audio-described 5 Jan 2.15pm (+ Touch Tour).
BSL Signed 22 Dec 2.15pm.
Captioned 3 Jan.
Runs 2hr 20min One interval.
TICKETS: 0116 242 3595.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 6 December.
Wherein it only takes a woman to make a perfect evening.
After journeying between New York City and Yonkers to its north – both locations and the idea of travel evoked by Arnim Friess’ projections behind designer Sara Perks’ unusually assertive rectangle, (the band visibly lined-up rear stage) – Hello, Dolly! spends most of its second act in a particularly superior pleasure garden where the rectangle’s answered by a prominent curved staircase – anomalous in earlier scenes, when characters ascended it simply to go back down.
This garden’s more old Europe than American. Then again, the musical’s comes indirectly from a comedy (loosely translated by Tom Stoppard as On the Razzle) by 19th-century Austrian Johann Nestroy.
The agile waiters at this classy joint are suddenly called to order by their maitre d’ announcing, as if an imperial visit, the return of Dolly Levi. She makes an impression descending the staircase with the show’s title song, happily concluding “Dolly’ll never go away again”. Which is fine when she’s played by Janie Dee.
Never mind Dolly was only imported into the story when Thornton Wilder took Nestroy’s comedy to America as The Matchmaker, nor that it’s hard to see how a widow pursuing a hard-headed, if wealthy merchant could hold such sway over so swanky a set of waiters – their choreographed rush to set things right for her is the dance highlight, exciting even before its turbo-propelled final moments.
She may overwhelm the original story of two clerks on an unofficial awayday trying to entertain two ladies on near-zero funds, but Dolly makes all come right. Dee’s last performance, as a magazine editor in Lucy Kirkwood’s NSFW at the Royal Court showed her incomparable at matching lightness and fluency with steely determination and unquestionable command. So here, with brief moments suggesting deeper feelings.
Other performers smile brightly at you; but Dee seems to be smiling in response to you. She matches flawless technique with childlike delight in movement, fluid as a river that knows its course, and, by natural authority, brooking no hindrance.
A lovelier Levi you’ll never find; no wonder Leicester’s already voted with its ticket money to keep her an extra week in town.
Dolly Gallagher Levi: Janie Dee.
Ernestina: Kerry Washington.
Ambrose Kemper: Simon Donovan.
Horace Vandergelder: Dale Rapley.
Ermengarde: Keisha Atwell.
Cornelius Hackl: Michael Xavier.
Barnaby Tucker: Jason Denton.
Minnie Fay: Ngo Ngofa.
Irene Molloy: Laura Pitt-Pulford.
Rudolf Reisenweber: Cameron Ball.
Stanley: Gary Wood.
Fritz: Kerry Spark.
Louie/Judge: Joseph Connor.
Danny: Matt Gillett.
Manny: Dominic Tribuzio.
Hank: Ashley Nottingham.
Townspeople: Holly Adams, Abigail Brodie, Lois Urwin, Makoto Iso, Lisa Dent, Gary Wood, Cameron Ball, Spin, Kerry Spark, Joseph Connor, Matt Gillett, Dominic Tribuzio, Ashley Nottingham, Craig Turbeyfield.
Director: Paul Kerryson.
Designer/Costume: Sara Perks.
Lighting: Rob Halliday.
Sound: Ben Harrison.
Musical Director: Ben Atkinson.
Video: Arnim Friess.
Choreographer: David Needham.