Book by Michael Stewart
Adapted from Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker
Music & Lyrics by Jerry Herman
Directed and Choreographed by Rachel Rockwell
Music Director Roberta Duchek
At Dury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook
Fresh face delivers a charming Dolly Levi
Drury Lane Theatre presents a lash, lavish and lively production of the classic 1964 Broadway musical, Hello Dolly! Rachel Rockwell is adept at mounting old chestnuts in the classic form without losing any of the charm or vigor of the original. With Jerry Herman’s Hello Dolly!—winner of 10 Tony Awards including Best Musical that ran 2,844 performances beginning in 1964. Carol Channing made Dolly Gallagher Levi her’s playing the frisky 1900 circa matchmaker.
Newcomer Karen Ziemba delivers a fine turn as the quirky yet lovable Dolly who always seems to make things happen to help people live life to the fullest. Ms. Ziemba presents Dolly an mischievous schemer, she renders funny moments as well as landing the charisma and take-charge presence needed to for Dolly. Ziemba combines warmth, charm and manipulation while emoting her emotional moments in tunes like “Before The Parade Passes By” and “So Long Dearie.” Karen Ziemba is a refreshing new voice as Dolly Levi giving her empathy as well as vulnerability that wins her to us.
Hello Dolly! contains a funny, romantic and innocent book by Michael Stewart adapted from Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker. Director Rachel Rockwell plays it for all the laughs contained. David Lively deftly plays Horace as as the grouchy store keeper with his spot-on comic timing and grim malice. We see Horace as a cranky, unloved miser and ½ millionaire who runs a feed store in Yonkers, New York. Dolly Levi is determined to marry Horace but she must help some loved starved folks while she eliminated her competition for Horace’s hand. The result is a bewitchingly cute tuneful romantic musical comedy.
From the spirited opening number, “I Put My Hand In,” we experience Dolly’s quick wit and determined resourcefulness. Horace delivers his bachelor anthem with “It Takes A Woman.” Next, Horace’s clerks, Cornelius (shy Jeff Diebold) and Barnaby (the fleet-footed Lee Slobotkin ) decide to go to NYC to have a night out vowing they’ll not come home until they’ve kissed a girl—setting up the classic show-stopper “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” were we get our first glimpse of the fine dancers smoothly gracing the Drury Lane stage. Rachel Rockwell’s choreography pay homage to Gower Champion’s original choreography with smooth updates that sweeten the show.
In NYC, Irene Malloy (Emily Rohm) dreams of a man to love in the sweet “Robbins Down My Back” while her clerk, Minnie Fay (the cute Maggie Portman) is pure young woman. Cornelius, Barnaby, Irene and Minnie eventually are matched up (with help from Dolly). They combine to open act two with the cute “Elegance” song and dance on their way to the Harmonia Gardens for dinner.
In a pure Broadway moment, the waiters dance and line-up to great Dolly in the classic greeting song “Hello Dolly.” The staging was energetically appropriate. Karen Ziemba looks exquisite in Theresa Ham’s vivid, period-perfect red gown. Note, this production looks great with multiple vivid gowns with amazingly hats that depicted high society around the turn of the 19th-20th Century
Hello Dolly! has all the elements of a great show—terrific score, fine vocals, spirited dances and rich humor from sweet characters. Jerry Herman’s gem is in fine hands with the amazing Chicago talents.. This Hello Dolly! is witty, cute, and tunefully spirited. This is a lavish lovely production that once more demonstrates how wonderfully classic Broadway musicals can be in the hands of creative talents who both understand and respect the material. Come to Oakbrook and rediscover Hello, Dolly! You’ll agree with Irene Mallow when she said: “The world is full of wonderful things!” Hello, Dolly! sure is one of them.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: October 24, 2013
For more info checkout the Hello, Dolly! page at theatreinchicago.com
At Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre, 100 Drury lane, Oakbrook, IL, call 630-530-0111, www.drurylane.com, tickets $35, $45, $49, Wednesdays at 1:30 pm, Thursdays at 1:30 & 8 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 5 & 8:30 pm, Sundays at 2 & 6 pm, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission, through January 5, 2014