Get into the festive spirit with Curve’s very own Christmas cracker Hello, Dolly. This brash and colourful belter of a musical travels all the way from the streets of New York to take up residence in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter.
With music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, Hello, Dolly was first performed on Broadway in 1964, winning 10 Tony awards. The 1969 film starring Barbra Streisand won three Oscars and so, as one of the world’s most well-loved musicals, this production had a lot to live up to – Paul Kerryson and his team do not disappoint.
Hello, Dolly tells the story of widow Dolly Levi (Janie Dee) over the course of one day in 1895. Big-hearted Dolly is a professional matchmaker and meddler , as well as hooking up three couples with their true love she has her own sights set on ‘well-known half-a-millionaire’ Horace Vandergelder (Dale Rapley). Dolly concocts complicated schemes including a hat shop, an expensive restaurant and a lost wallet plus a few misunderstandings along the way to make him see what she already knows – that she is the next Mrs Vandergelder.
Dolly is the heart and soul of this musical, requiring an actor with charisma and comic timing. Janie Dee returns to Curve (she played Anna in The King and I in 2010) and is sassy and sophisticated; her New York accent never drops and her vocals are pleasing, a singing equivalent of a rich hot chocolate.
Rapley’s Vandergelder is a wound-up ball of male pride and confusion until he finally melts under Dolly’s charm. The singing and dancing by the whole cast was impressive with David Needham’s exhausting looking choreography for The Waiters’ Gallop followed by the title song and much-loved Hello, Dolly staircase routine the highlights for me. Sara Perks’ sumptuous costumes – velvet, satin and feather boas galore – flattered by Rob Halliday’s effective lighting evoke the grandeur of the Harmonia Gardens restaurant.
A nice touch is the orchestra playing onstage as if in a New York nightclub and this, together with the creative use of
the grand staircase throughout the musical
give the impression of a further two ‘characters’ on stage.
Hello, Dolly is a fun and frivolous story, set at a time just before the horrors of the 20th century took hold. But it is warm, escapist fun and I left Curve happy, ready to brave the cold and humming Hello, Dolly as I headed home.