Broadway touring company brings iconic musical Hello, Dolly! alive with costumes, choreography.

Featured photo by Julieta Cervantes 2019  

It’s a little-known fact that before Carol Channing captivated Broadway audiences in the 1964 premiere of Hello, Dolly!, she graced the stage of our very own Fisher Theater in a tryout engagement. Now, Dolly has returned to her original venue in a splendid production replete with lavish costumes, exquisite sets and magnificent musical numbers.

The 1964 musical, based on Thornton Wilder’s play The Matchmaker, was an instant smash, winning a record 10 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Composer and Lyricist (Jerry Herman), Best Author (Michael Stewart), Best Director and Best Choreography (Gower Champion).

The revival, which opened on Broadway in 2017 with Bette Midler as the titular diva, received four Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical. The Tony-winning creative team includes Jerry Zaks (director), Warren Carlyle (choreographer) and Santo Loquasto (scenic and costume design).

Broadway veteran Carolee Carmello is radiant as Dolly, the crafty widow who ekes out a living as a matchmaker and various other “trades” that include dance teacher and financial planner. She takes the audience on a hilarious journey of missteps as she schemes to get her charming hooks into wealthy widower Horace Vandergelder, played by an excellent John Bolton.

Other notable cast members include Analisa Leaming as the lovely young widow Irene Malloy; Chelsea Cree Groen as Irene’s friend and employee Minnie Fay and Laura Sky Herman as Horace’s perpetually whiny niece Ermengarde.

Now for the costumes. The designs by Santo Loquasto, who also created the sets, evoke a host of words such as fabulous, stunning and eye-popping. None of these, however, really describes the glorious array of finery on display in every scene. In the lively number, “Put on Your Sunday Clothes,” the actors light up the stage wearing dresses and suits in bright jewel tones of teal, purple, lime and fuschia. And we cannot forget Dolly’s signature red gown and feathered headpiece, which she wears when the title song is performed by a talented group of waiters who dance and sing like nobody’s business.

Loquasto’s creative genius is also displayed in the beautifully detailed sets that bring each scene to life; from Vandergelder’s feed store in Yonkers to the colorful streets and shops of 1885 Manhattan.

The now-classic songs are performed with heart and gusto, and the dancing, especially in the restaurant scene, is dazzling. And the traditional overture, absent from most modern musicals, brought back fond memories of classic Broadway shows.

The story is undeniably dated and even a bit sexist in its portrayal of women. However, it’s a depiction of life in the late 1800s, and to tamper with the tale of the inimitable Dolly Levi would be tantamount to sacrilege. Better to sit back and enjoy this marvelous production of a timeless Broadway musical.

Hello, Dolly! runs through Dec. 1 at the Fisher Theatre, 3011 W. Grand Blvd. in Detroit. Tickets start at $39 and can be purchased by calling

(313) 872-1000 or by visiting broadwayindetroit.com.

 

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