By: Isa Goldberg
For its graceful legion of dancers, and for the return of Bette Midler to Broadway, let us say, “Hello, Dolly!“ In this revival of the popular show, by Michael Stewart (book) and Jerry Herman (music and lyrics), director Jerry Zaks and choreographer Warren Carlyle recreate the flow of song, story and motion that distinguished Gower Champion’s original choreography and direction. These dancers are literally on their toes, and the pageantry and whimsy they bring to this revival recreates one of the best-staged musicals of all time.
In every respect, it’s a beautiful show to watch. Santo Loquasto’s murals and scrims are in and of themselves classics of American landscape painting. And his costumes are just as eye popping and camp. Speaking of camp, Bette Midler plays Dolly Levi with natural aplomb. She‘s even a tad understated at first, becoming full blown fantastic in her second act numbers, “So Long Dearie” and, of course, “Hello, Dolly!”
Indeed, the second act is a delightful rally of raucous interludes. My favorite is the restaurant scene, with the waiters in their white gloves and red tails. Staged like a French farce, the action flows seamlessly as the crowd of waiters and keystone cops lead patrons into the judge’s chambers for disturbing the peace, along with other infractions. Meanwhile, Dolly continues to gnaw, eagerly and without interruption, on a turkey bone, the size of which evokes the image of a pre-historical creature.
As the object of her romantic quest, Horace Vandergelder, David Hyde Pierce appears utterly at ease. At moments, he aptly makes fun of himself and the image we have of him as staid, overly reasoning, and a bit tart. It all comes out when he reiterates the word, “no,” as convincingly as a three-year-old and with equally piercing insistence. As the prospective match for Vandergelder, Kate Baldwin portrays the milliner Irene Molloy. Reputed to be something of a witch, Baldwin belies the rumor with a voice so sweet and rich, that we are instantly seduced.
It’s an entirely delightful cast with the likes of Gavin Creel and Taylor Trensch as the two youthful sidekicks. And Jennifer Simard brings comic panache to her role as Dolly’s trashy girlfriend.
Whether or not it matters, Dolly is a show with a moral, albeit humorously stated. “Money,” The Matchmaker claims,“ is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spent encouraging young things to grow.” Be that as it may, this production has the most age diverse cast, that I I’ve seen in a Broadway musical of late. And many of its more senior members are chorus dancers. Still an uplifting show and this, a delightful revival!
Hello, Dolly ****
225 West 44th Street (Between Broadway and 8th Avenue) 212 239-620o Photo:Julieta Cervantes