Review: Jubilant Hit Revival of “Hello, Dolly!” Comes to Broadway In Columbus
Hello, Dolly!, Jerry Herman (music and lyrics) and Michael Stewart’s (book) adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker, has delighted audiences since its 1964 debut. A high-water mark for productions comes to the Ohio with the first tour of the 2017 Broadway smash revival, directed by Jerry Zaks and choreographed by Warren Carlyle.
This tale of romantic intrigue and slapstick in turn-of-the-19th-century New York features Betty Buckley as widowed matchmaker-hustler Dolly Gallagher Levi and Lewis J. Stadlen as half-a-millionaire Horace Vandergelder, the prey in her sights. Vandergelder’s beleaguered employees Cornelius Hackl (Nic Rouleau) and Barnaby Tucker (Sean Burns) who fall for his original betrothed, Irene Molloy (Analisa Leaming) and her best friend/coworker Minnie Fay (Kristen Hahn), round out the cast
Dolly Gallagher Levi’s passion for life and sustained curiosity continues to electrify audiences, and it’s hard to picture a better take on this iconic Broadway character than Betty Buckley. Buckley understands that Dolly doesn’t love the world in some soft-focus, generalized way, she loves it in specific. We’re living in Dolly’s world but that world’s vibrancy comes from acknowledging people.
Her lingering over each person’s name — still remembered — from the restaurant the character hasn’t set foot in for 10 years gives the song an emotional ballast no matter how often the audience has heard it. She understands how much of the character is a delightful New Yorker cartoon in songs like “I Put My Hand In,” while turning wrenching numbers like “Before the Parade Passes By” into arrows straight for the audience’s heart.
The heroine is a house of cards if her foil isn’t a worthy adversary, challenge, and prize; Lewis Stadlen excels at the prickly, calloused-by-the-world Horace Vandergelder. He takes the humanizing “Penny in My Pocket” in front of the curtain before the second act and makes it a tour de force. His classic borscht belt-recalling comedic flair litters the stage with laughs.