HERRIMAN — During Hello, Dolly! tonight there were moments of chills and laughter, moments of brilliance and comedy and moments that can only be experienced by attending live theater. As the show so adequately puts it: “It only takes a moment…”
Only Dolly Levi would reply to the statement “Dolly Levi, you are a damned exasperating woman.“ with her own retort of “Why Horace Vandergelder. That is the nicest thing you have ever said to me.“ With a complicated love story and classic one-liners, this show has truly stood the test of time, becoming an endearing and iconic American musical.
Would you believe that Hello, Dolly! was based on a farce written by Thornton Wilder? He’s the playwright who wrote Our Town, one of the most produced plays in American theatre. However, the plot of Hello, Dolly! goes back even further than Thornton’s 1938 version. Inspiration for this hit musical originated from a one-act piece written in 1835. And, as we all know, Barbara Streisand later went on to star as Dolly in the 1969 film version. Quite the history for the Herriman Arts Council to live up to! Well, fortunately they did a good job.
Due to a jam-packed review schedule this weekend, we opted to review this show on their “Friends and Family” preview night. Their official opening night is Friday, July 10th. I was immediately swept away with the full orchestra and the beautiful setting in the Rosecrest Pavilion at W&M Butterfield Park in Herriman.
The costumes were absolutely perfect. Not only did they seem to be hand-crafted for all the actors (which I think is rare in smaller productions) but they really seemed to reflect the character’s personality as well.
The overall quality of the acting and singing is what one would expect in community theater. Still, people did well and it was an enjoyable night. The standout performances were absolutely Ryan Hoskins as Cornelius and Julie Reed as Irene. I have seen Hello, Dolly! several times but tonight was the first night I lost myself in their moments of falling in love.
Spencer Walker played his comedic role as Barnaby refreshingly well. There were also two chorus members that I found myself drawn too. Unfortunately I don’t have their names, they are a treat to watch out for when you go. Make sure to check out the tall male who wears green pants and a dark brown hat at the beginning. He also plays the part of Stanley in the grand musical number “Hello, Dolly!” He was always present in his character and unlike a few other cast members, he was always engaged no matter what scene was taking place. The other chorus member I really enjoyed was the girl who wore the long purple skirt at one point. She is also the one that does the small solo ‘jump the leg dance’ in the “Hello, Dolly!” number. The rest of the ensemble were still great and absolutely lent themselves to the success of the show.
Gerald Graves as Horace Vandergelder was strong and had a powerful voice. His stage presence was amazing and his voice boomed like Vandergelder’s gruff voice should (perhaps a bit too booming at the beginning with loud sound quality). He and Kelli Allred (as Dolly) did well together. My breath was caught away at Allred’s performance of “Before the Parade Passes By.” Her emotional connection to this song was brilliant and I will never listen to it the same way again.
I am sad to say that I didn’t love Allred throughout the whole show. I felt she was holding back part of her performance. I found myself wanting more. She has such a great stage presence and when things connected, she was wonderful. Unfortunately, they didn’t always connect for me.
The choreography was a mixed bag for me as well. I loved the “Dancing” number but found “The Polka Contest” confusing and chaotic. I would have loved to see the front area of the stage used more. Between the farce at the Hat Shop (though the comedic timing is not quite there) and the moving dinner tables, things certainly were entertaining and fun to watch. The set (especially the panels and painted props) was really well done with such simplicity that it spoke volumes.
Again, this was a preview night and I expect there were a lot of nerves. As with most preview nights, it was a bit rough around the edges. The sound at the beginning was distractingly loud. By the end, they seemed to have gotten a good grasp on it.
While Horace may have found Dolly “damned exasperating” – I found Hello, Dolly! to be quite endearing. Overall, I had a great night and this would be such a fun evening to enjoy with the family. I was impressed at the overall direction of the show and the quality of the production. Between the live orchestra, great set, costumes and obvious fun the actors had on stage – it was a wonderful way to spend a warm summer night.
I would highly recommend this over any recent blockbuster movie. It was not Broadway (and it certainly didn’t cost Broadway prices) but it was sweet and entertaining. The chance to see this classic show performed live with a sunset backdrop should be taken advantage of!