Bard to Broadway’s Hello Dolly, now on stage at the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach drew a full crowd on opening night and for fans of classic Broadway musicals it provided a satisfying piece of nostalgia.
The feel good show has superb music and is brought to life by an excellent cast of singers, dancers and comic actors, expertly directed by Gary Brown.
Hello Dolly has become one of the most enduring musical theatre hits enjoying three Broadway revivals and international success since it was first produced in 1964.
The musical takes the audience on a whirlwind race around New York at the turn of the 20th century, as they follow the adventures of America’s most beloved matchmaker.
The story is about Dolly Levi’s efforts to marry Horace Vandergelder, the well-known half-a-millionaire, and send his money circulating among the people like rainwater the way her late husband, Ephraim Levi, taught her.
Along the way Dolly also succeeds in matching up the young and beautiful Widow Molloy with Vandergelder’s head clerk, Cornelius Hackl; Cornelius’ assistant, Barnaby Tucker, with Mrs. Molloy’s assistant, Minnie Fay; and the struggling artist, Ambrose Kemper, with Mr. Vandergelder’s weeping niece, Ermengarde.
“And what do you do for a living, Mrs. Levi?” asks Ambrose Kemper in the first scene of the musical comedy. “Some people paint, some sew…I meddle,” replies Dolly.
The plot is set in motion when Yonkers feed store clerk Cornelius celebrates his promotion by taking his pal Barnaby to New York City for a good time.
But Cornelius and Barnaby can’t avoid crossing paths with their boss Mr. Vandergelder who’d hit the roof if he saw them in a fancy restaurant with two fancy girls instead of tending to the store.
Vandergelder himself is the object of Dolly’s affections, though she pretends to have only a professional interest in the widowed merchant, going through the motions of finding him a new wife when in fact she’d like to be the lucky bride herself.
Amy Mikkelborg exudes charm in the leading role as Dolly Gallagher Levi.
Her energy is infectious, her personality endearing and her vocal talents evident.
Her portrayal of a matchmaker, marriage broker, meddler and New York celebrated merry widow who is out to capture the penny-pinching Vandergelder for herself was solid.
Mikkelborg’s rapid fire dialogue had the audience in stitches from the moment she hit the stage. As business cards flew endlessly from her tapestry bag Mikkelborg embraced Dolly’s feisty spirit with gusto.
Mikkelborg’s shrewdly mischievous performance is complimented by some great supporting actors.
As the hapless store clerks who venture to the big city, David Mathews as Cornelius and Nicholas Atkinson as Barnaby are terrific and the pair bring some great physicality to their roles.
In an inspired piece of casting by Brown, the goofy duo deliver some quirky comedy and have great chemistry together.
A remarkable singer, dancer and comic actor as one of Vandergelder’s overworked, underpaid employees, Mathew’s role as Cornelius allows him to sing fun comedy numbers, but also provide a more moving performance in the romantic number It Only Takes a Moment.
Atkinson is an able companion as Cornelius’s sidekick Barnaby. His buffoonery, singing and dancing are refreshing and he brings sincerity and charm to his role as an oppressed clerk loose on the town.
Besides her talent and youthful verve, Emily Blake sparkles on stage in the role of Minnie Fay.
Her bright smile and lively step are captivating and she delivers an energetic and charismatic performance in several of the ensemble and couples numbers.
Morgana Clarkson as Irene Molloy the milliner who ultimately finds happiness when she realizes money isn’t everything sang a heartfelt Ribbons Down My Back.
The delightful act two opener in which the four perform Elegance was terrific.
There is great scene where the two country bumpkins try to impress the two New York City ladies with what little money they’ve earned and all are tired from walking all day in an effort to be viewed as elegant.
Brian Lecky comedically portrays the single, wealthy and rather unlikeable Horace Vandergelder with confidence.
He is particularly hilarious at Harmonia Gardens in Act Two where there is a fine blend of comical plot developments with quick turns by dancing waiters.
Resplendent in scarlet gown embroidered with jewels and a feathered headdress Dolly sings the rousing title song with zest and leads a male chorus of waiters and chefs in a joyous promenade around the restaurant.
The show’s climax has a chaotic fun scene where wallets are switched, polka partners are spun and arrests are made.
The chorus both danced and sang well under the guidance of vocal director Hilary Whelton and choreographer Donna Wilkins.
The timeless musical is full of memorable songs and the zing of the production numbers got an energetic boost from the orchestra, led by music director Barry Miller.
The set is gorgeous as are the magnificent costumes with feathered hats, and sweeping feminine skirts.
Along with the zesty choreography the production is beautifully staged and nicely directed with a spot on blending of the lead performances.
A must see show of B2B’s summer repertory theatre Hello Dolly received a thunderous standing ovation at curtain call.
For those who enjoy recognizing almost every song in a musical and having a great laugh while doing it, this is the show for you, but you better get your tickets fast.
Hello Dolly and B2B’s other production, Becky’s New Car, an irresistible and lough-out-loud comedy runs until August 18.
For tickets call the B2B box office at 250-752-4470. You can check out the 2012 schedule on line at www.b2btheatre.com.