Say “Hello” to Dolly at the Academy of Music through March 1st.

-Brenda Hillegas
(feature photo by Julieta Cervantes)

When I interviewed John Bolton (Hello, Dolly‘s Horace Vandergelder), he hoped that audiences would simply experience joy as they watch the production.

And that’s exactly what you’ll feel. Joy.

As Dolly Gallagher Levi walks elegantly down a red staircase in a stunning red dress you’ll truly feel the magic of theatre. This scene is the beginning of one of the most iconic songs in the history of Broadway. It’s “Hello, Dolly!” and the audience cheers, wide smiles just appear across faces, and you’ll understand why this musical is considered one of Broadway’s greatest!

Hello, Dolly, which first premiered on Broadway in 1964, tells the story of a determined matchmaker (among other random professions) named Dolly who tries to find a wife for Horace Vandergelder of Yonkers. Her plan, all along of course, is to just marry Horace herself.

In this tour of the show, Dolly is played by Carolee Carmello. On many occasions during last night’s performance, I wanted to stand up and shout “give this lady a Tony now!” If an award category existed for “lead actress in a touring musical revival” she would have nailed it. No question. Hands down. 100%. Dolly has been played by an all-star group of performers over the years such as Carol Channing, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, and Pearl Bailey to name a few. Carolee, as Dolly, lights up every scene with wit and charm. Her voice and her stage presence are incredible.

This show, though, is an ensemble. Dolly may be the reason everything and everyone ties together, but every character has a moment to shine with song and dance. John Bolton, Daniel Beeman (as Cornelius Hackl), Sean Burns (as Barnaby Tucker), Analisa Leaming (as Irene Malloy) and Chelsea Cree Groen (as Minnie Fay) make up Dolly’s social circle. Two numbers in particular- “Motherhood March” performed in the hat shop and “The Waiters’ Galop” in the fancy Harmonia Gardens Restaurant- prove how important these actors (and every other cast member in Hello, Dolly) are to any given scene. From staging to direction to just the right choreography, Hello, Dolly proves the importance of teamwork in a cast.

As …says, the gorgeous costumes, the feel of New York City in the late 19th century, the high-energy dance number, and dialogue all make up the perfect, classic Broadway show. With music and lyrics by the late, great Jerry Herman, Hello, Dolly is absolutely a must-see for any fan of the theatre. And if someone in the audience is experiencing a musical for the very first time, how lucky are they to have that show be Hello, Dolly?!

Tickets for Hello, Dolly at the Academy of Music are available here. The show runs through March 1st. There will be an American Sign Language (ASL) and Audio Description (AD) Performance on Friday, February 28th at 8:00pm.

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