Monday, September 29, 2014

Hooray for "Dolly"

The classic musical gets the royal treatment at Chanhassen Dinner Theater. 

Photo Courtesy of Chanhassen Dinner
Based on the play The Matchmaker by fellow Midwesterner Thornton Wilder, Hello Dolly describes an eccentric but loving widow who functions as New York City's resident matchmaker at the turn of the century. After spending several years away from the Big Apple in the small town of Yonkers, New York to arrange a match, Dolly decides to marry again to the wealthiest man in town (Horace Vandergelder). Matters are complicated when Vandergelder's niece wishes to marry an artist, his former engagement falls through, his staff runs away from his general store, and other shenanigans ensue, but Dolly achieves her goal regardless and with panache. 

Michelle Barber is radiant as Dolly, in a role that finally fits her quirky charm. With a twinkle that never leaves her eye, Barber sashays around twirling waiters, skips to the railroad and commands the audience with a single wave. Costar Keith Rice (as the pompous Vandergelder) is again in his element, lending his signature wit to the role.
Photo Courtesy of Chanhassen Dinner Theaters
Other familiar faces are prominently featured as well: Tyler Michaels shines, as usual, as store clerk Cornelius Hackl; Kersten Rodau, once again cracking us up as Ernestina; Mark King leading fabulous dance ensembles; Thomas Schumacher as fahhhhh-bulous head waiter Rudolph; and many more.

A cast standout is Cat Brindisi (yes, yes - she is related to *that* Brindisi) who is absolutely marvelous as hatmaker Irene Molloy. Her lovely, deep voice wends through the chromatics of several pieces (including "Ribbons Down My Back" and "It Only Takes A Moment," a wonderful duet sung with Michaels), and it's a pleasure to watch her - she'll be around for a while.
Photo Courtesy of Chanhassen Dinner Theaters
Set and props are imaginative as always, including a human steam train that had the audience in loud applause. The choreography is marvelous, especially the restaurant scene near the end of the show - or really, any scene featuring the wait staff. They pirouette and jeté from curtain to curtain at dizzying pace, and their scenes are the most fun of the show.

Hello Dolly is another hit for Chanhassen, and one that is certain to brighten your mood throughout the winter months. It runs through February 21; for more information or to buy tickets, click on this link.