Over 50 years since its debut in Broadway, Hello, Dolly! stills brings the audience to their feet, especially during its current run at ASU Gammage. Led by Betty Buckley, the cast delivers a performance that revives the musical and the reminiscent hearts of the fans.
The story follows Dolly Levi, a widow who is a professional matchmaker of kindred spirits. “Some knit, some sew; I meddle,” Dolly says as she embarks on a mission to find a wife for ill-tempered Horace Vandergelder, a well-known half-millionaire. Dolly is also set to help Ambrose Kemper, an artist who is in love with Horace’s niece Ermengarde.
In addition, hotel clerks Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker abandon their posts against the strict instructions of their boss Horace Vandergelder. They set out to Yonkers, New York, where they hope to find adventure. All the while, Dolly has a devious plan to find herself a husband.
All of the characters in Hello, Dolly! are strikingly different from each other, yet the story melts these different personality in a very cohesive tale of love. The story is well paced, with humor, tension and melancholy portrayed by the characters.
Buckley delivers a performance of a woman who strives for love but is still haunted by her past. The audience could understand and connect with Buckley’s character. As joyous and full of life as Dolly can be, Horace is her polar opposite. Set in his ways, Horace, played by Lewis J. Stadlen, is used to being “the boss” and in control. Stadlen’s different tones of voice are memorable aspects of the musical. Seeing these two characters interact is quite the comedic spectacle.
Two young men in seek of adventure, whose biggest mystery is women, bring the story a special connection that is worthy of enormous laughter. Being scared to talk to a woman and trying to impress them in any way possible (even lying) is a story that is known by men. Nic Rouleau as Cornelius Hackl and Jess LeProtto as Barnaby Tucker, bring the characters a warmth of boyish behavior. In addition, Jess LeProtto amazes the audience with his dancing.
Their counterparts, Irene Mollo played by Analisa Leaming, and Minnie Fay played by Kristen Hahn, tie the final knot in the story. Both ladies being courted by Cornelius and Barnaby, their affection for each other convolute the plot into a ball of humor.
Despite its age, Hello, Dolly! captures the attention of the audience as it once did in 1964. With the range of characters and diverse story, this musical will continue to thrive and is capable of expanding in more directions. As it is said in the musical “Dolly, everybody knows you can do anything you wanted to do.”
Hello, Dolly! National Tour, ASU Gammage, 1200 S. Forest Avenue, Tempe, 480.965.3434, asugammage.com, various times through Sunday, January 13, tickets start at $35.