Bringing romance, comedy, and late 19th century New York to Boston, Hello, Dolly! brightens the Boston night and lifts the spirit of theatre goers as they revel in its beauty.
Broadway in Boston brought the 2019 Hello, Dolly! tour to Boston from Aug. 13 to 25, starring Tony Award-winning actress Betty Buckley as the leading lady, Dolly Gallagher Levi, a widowed professional “meddler,” and her journey to find love for both herself and various friends.
Dolly, a matchmaker and a society tutor, returns to New York to arrange the marriage between an old miserly half-a-millionaire, Horace Vandergelder, from Yonkers, N.Y., and Irene Molloy, a lively widow who owns a hat shop in the city.
It soon becomes apparent that Dolly, since the death of her husband Ephram Levi, has been traveling around with no stability, meddling in other people’s affairs for a living. She wants to marry Vandergelder “for the money,” she candidly admits to the audience. Vandergelder and Molloy, however, also have their own motives for marriage, the former being to find a woman to clean the house and the latter to get out of the hat-making business that she despises.
Vandergelder’s young niece, Ermengarde, whines frequently and wants to marry her artist lover Ambrose, who Vandergelder forbids because of Ambrose’s lack of steady income. Cornelius Hackl is Vandergelder’s 33-year-old head clerk, who is constantly promoted to head clerk and never gets a day off and has never interacted with a woman.
When Vandergelder leaves the store for the city to propose to Molloy, Dolly schemes for her own marriage to Vandergelder while Hackl, along with his assistant Barnaby Tucker, sneaks out of his store-keeping duties to experience adventure in the city. Hackl and Tucker eventually encounter Molloy’s hat shop and, through hilarious hijinks, Vandergelder’s marriage plans fall through and Dolly arranges dates between Hackl and Molloy and Tucker and Molloy’s shop assistant Minnie.
Orchestrated by Dolly, the day descends into chaos, and all of them get arrested. Much to the chagrin of Vandergelder, he realizes that, in the end, he cannot live without Dolly and has a change of heart, leaving the audience happy.
The show is full of bright musical numbers and elaborately choreographed dance sequences that made the performance a true spectacle. “Dancing,” where Dolly teaches Hackl and Tucker how to dance, evolves into a giant dance number, where the entire chorus emerges onstage in its period clothing and performs a large, ballet-esque dance number.
“The Waiters’ Gallop” was equally as impressive, with a strong moving pulse throughout the whole number that features impressive tricks and props. Plates were thrown across the stage while the waiters glided through the air in jetés and consecutive barrel jumps, catching the plates perfectly.
The wow-moment of the entire show was the number “Hello, Dolly!,” where Dolly triumphs at the most expensive restaurant in New York which she frequented, often in a glittering red dress, much to the delight of the maître d’ and the waiters. A grand, synchronized dance number, complete with humorous asides that pulse through the veins of the entire show, brings the audience to their feet with awe and joy.
At 72 years old, Buckley is still a vocal powerhouse with a stage presence that commands the entire room’s attention. Playing Dolly, a character who has a larger-than-life personality, Buckley perfectly encapsulates both the cheer and the cheek of the character, showing the breadth of the character by being both side-splittingly funny, offering witticisms such as: “Marriage is tricking a housekeeper into thinking she’s a householder,” as well as showing her more vulnerable, emotional side in “Before the Parade Passes By.”
Another standout performance is from Analisa Leaming, who plays Molloy’s wife. Stunning the audience with her steady vibrato, Leaming captured the hearts of the audience with her solo “Ribbons Down My Back,” singing her heart out for her dreary life after her husband had passed away.
Hello, Dolly! is a romantic comedy that embeds a real lesson in its legendary screenplay. The defining quote—“Money is like manure; it’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around encouraging young things to grow”—shows Vandergelder’s change in heart to marry Dolly and leaves the audience with reassurance about the future happiness of the characters.Leaving the theater, the audience is filled with laughter and bustling with energy, still humming the tunes of the renowned musical with their days brightened and their optimism renewed.
Hello, Dolly! brings a smile to even the most cranky faces and a sparkle to the Boston theatre district.
Images Courtesy of Julieta Cervantes