In the light of International Woman’s day it seems fitting that The Southern Light Opera Company have chosen to put on a show about a truly boisterous women of her time, Dolly Gallagher Levi. She doesn’t need permission, meddles where she pleases and takes pride in being called ‘an exasperating woman’. Hello Dolly! is one of the most successful musicals of all time and is here to bring its turn of the century style to the King’s Theatre.
The musical follows Dolly Levi, a widowed matchmaker, who travels to New York to find a bride for the very wealthy yet incredibly stingy, Horace Vandergelder. It soon becomes clear that Dolly has eyes for him herself and as she spends her time match making for others, she is also scheming to make Horace her own. As a woman who takes meddling to a whole different level will she be able to successfully secure a match for herself? This audience certainly has a good time finding out.
It’s clear from the musical’s opening number that the ensemble are a vocally strong group. A special mention should go to the males of the chorus who do a particularly good job at the musicals most famous number Hello Dolly! With very successful harmonies throughout the ensemble shines with help from a very talented orchestra that knows exactly what its doing. The dancing is where the company falls down. It’s obvious that the cast aren’t as comfortable with dance as they are with singing and this should have been taken into consideration. However, there are a few exceptions that include a group young ladies that are clearly very talented dancers. It would have been nice to see them on their own as a group of soloists more than we did. Although, the male dancers truly did shine along with the girls in the number The Waiter’s Gallop, which was a notable audience favourite. The dancers had the audience gaping at their very impressive tricks throughout this very playful scene.
The show really gets its punch from its leading lady, Elspeth Whyte, as Dolly. She really does bring the character to life. She is fabulous from the word go and does the music and accent from the era complete justice. With her comedic timing and genuine flair she grasps the audiences attention throughout. Another notable highlight of the show were the lovable duo Cornelius Heckl (John Bruce) and Barnaby Tucker(Mathew O’Hagen) who had the audience in stitches more than once. Tanya Williamson as the newly widowed Irene Molloy has a lovely classical voice that fits her character beautifully, while her friend Minnie (Nicola Dryburgh) is absolutely adorable to watch.
The cast seem to be enjoying themselves and it is evident that they really do love the musical. However, its a real shame when a talented cast is let down by technical aspects of the show. Scene changes were sometimes slow and usually a bit sloppy which slowed the pace of the show. Stage hands were sometimes seen moving pieces of set which seems unnecessary given that there is a very large cast available. This large cast is also a problem at times, it seems that the number of people could be cut by at least half. The amount of people on stage often made the choreography look messy. Although, the overall arc of the show needs some polishing it doesn’t take away from the wonderful cast and their dedicated performances. If you are a fan of musicals from the Golden Age of theatre and don’t mind a few hiccups, Hello Dolly! Is not one to miss because that Dolly sure does shine.
Guest Reviewer: Ashleigh More