Wednesday, 9 October 2002

Hello Dolly!, Prod Co. Oct 2002

Music and lyrics by Jerry Herman  Book by Michael Stewart   
by The Production Company   
at State Theatre October 9,10,11,12, 2002
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Amanda Muggleton  plays Dolly Levi , the bossy, scheming matchmaker, with a touch of Mae West.  Muggleton, with her broad New York Jewish accent, is brassy, bold, sexy and provocative as Dolly.

This is a concert version rather than the full musical. This means it has no set, some dancing but concentrates on the songs and characters and Hello Dolly! is jam-packed with singable tunes  by Jerry Herman.

The production, directed by Rodney Fisher  in a frighteningly short ten day, is slick and stylish. Tony Bartuccio's  choreography is witty and smooth. Under John Foreman's musical direction, Orchestra Victoria  is excellent.

Muggleton shines as Dolly. Her presence is magnetic, particularly in the second half when she boots the energy. Her entrance for the title song is a show-stopper. She is sassy, sexy and vampish as she parades down a staircase in a scarlet sequined gown.

Hello Dolly! is a story about finding love and the great adventure that follows.

Dolly wants to give up her lowly position as a marriage broker and marry her richest client, Horace Vandengelder,  (John Stanton) the feed store merchant from Yonkers.  Her naughty, comic and mostly harmless manipulations to carry out her plan are the heart of the story.

Meanwhile, Horace's disgruntled shop clerks, Cornelius Hackl  (Anthony Weigh) and Barnaby Tucker) (Lindsay Farris) embark on a journey to New York to meet girls.

The musical, based on Thornton Wilder's  play, The Matchmaker, . opened in 1964 with Carol Channing  as Dolly.

Stanton, as the grumpy Vandegelder, is suitably gruff and unbending.  The stand-out performance is Anthony Weigh  as Cornelius. Weigh is a real talent both as an actor and singer.

 There are fine cameos from Christen O'Leary as the whining Ermengarde,  Melissa Madden Grey as perky Minnie, Katie Wilkins  as the trashy Ernestine, and Grant Pir  as a German waiter.

Vanessa Downing  as Irene Molloy, is dignified but lacks vocal strength.

The songs include: Before the Parade Passes By,  It Takes A Woman and Put On Your Sunday Clothes. The highlight is the lyrical love ballad, It Only Takes a Moment,   sung by Weigh with the company.

This production is charming and genuinely entertaining. Let's hope to see it with all the moving parts next time.

By Kate Herbert

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