‘HELLO BETTY’ BUCKLEY AND A SUPERB CAST REDISCOVER THE YONKERS MATCHMAKER
‘BEFORE THE PARADE PASSES BY’, AND ‘PUT ON YOUR SUNDAY CLOTHES’ BRINGS THIS FEATURED CAST UP FRONT
THIS IS NOT ALL ABOUT DOLLY!
Just seconds into the opening number of this classy and now iconic musical, a horse-drawn trolley rolls on stage to a huge ovation as the marvelous Dolly Gallagher Levi steps off the carriage. Theater legends Carol Channing, Pearl Bailey, Mary Martin and Ethel Merman have entered the stage as Dolly. This trolly moves across SHN’s Golden Gate stage through March, 17th. The accomplished diva, Betty Buckley, (“Cats,” “Sunset Boulevard” and, of course, “Eight Is Enough”) brings the matchmaker charm back to San Francisco. This Scott Rudin production starred Bette Midler, Bernadette Peters, and Donna Murphy in the red headdress ended its run at Broadway's Shubert Theatre last summer.
BUT FOR SAN FRANCISCO FANS -THE MEMORY OF CAROL CHANNING WILL ALWAYS SHINE BRIGHT AS THE SF FAVORITE FROM GALILEO HIGH AS THE ICON DOLLY WHO HELP TO CREATE THE MATCH MAKER SOME 55 YEARS AGO. IT WON’T BE FORGOTTEN, SHE PASSED LAST YEAR - IS HONORED WITH THIS PRODUCTION. THIS CAST OF DOLLY IS A PROVEN CAST OF PROFESSIONALS THAT BRING THIS CLASSIC MUSICAL BACK TO SAN FRANCISCO AND TO THE GOLDEN GATE THEATRE WERE MISS CHANNING ONCE PERFORMED THE SHOW.
Based on the 19th century-set play by Thornton Wilder, DOLLY includes show stopping numbers. Songwriter Jerry Herman’S unforgettable show tunes and book by Michael Stewart is legendary. The original Broadway production of “Hello, Dolly!” ran for 2,844 performances and swept the Tony Awards, winning 10, while the 2017 production won the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical.
Set in the 1890s, the story revolves around a headstrong matchmaker who has set her sights and her own affections on the wealthy and curmudgeonly widower, Horace Vandergelder. Caught in the web of romance in this light hearted rom com and old-fashioned tale are Vandergelder’s two virgin clerks, and two unsuspecting women and everyone else who crosses the matchmakers path. Directed by icon vet, Jerry Zaks, the musical has American pop tunes of that era of musicals that set the tone of 50’s Broadway. Earworm songs such as “It Only Takes a Moment,” “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” and “Ribbons Down My Back” and of course, “Hello Dolly".
The follow spot shines on this Broadway idol Betty Buckley but the stunning cast upstages her performance in each classic number. The dapper Lewis J. Stadlen gives Dolly’s true romance Half million dollar store owner, Horace Vandergelder, that perfect comic timing to his lovable curmudgeon grumpiness. Broadway pros Nic Roleau and Jess LeProtto as Cornelius and Barnaby steal every one of their scenes including the acclaimed number “Put on your Sunday Clothes” as the two head to New York to live life. "We're not coming back to Yonkers until we've each kissed a girl," says Cornelius. When the chorus line link arms, dressed in eye candy sherbet colored costumes by Santo Loquasto, the audience burst into applause. The sassy and funny Analisa Leaming and Kristen Hahn as the Hat shop girls Minnie and Irene Molloy sing the sweet classic “Ribbons Down my Back”. The two are energetic and comic pros. Ermengarde, played by Morgan Kirner,is a whining unwed 17 year old who exists only to annoy her rich, uncle. Her only ambition in life is to marry a starving artist, Stanley.
Director Zaks, who crafted the Midler production, and his cast and crew bring the Broadway show and all its class to this tour. Every visual gag exactingly choreographed movement is graceful. Choreographer Warren Carlyle keeps the toes light as he lets the wardrobe outshine his soft shoe movement in “Sunday Clothes”. Then the dance spins into hyper athletic as the male ensemble meets the jazz hands romp “The Waiters Gallop” during the restaurant scene, with its shish kebab swordplay, piles of plates. Rudolph, played by the cuddly Wally Dunn and his walrus-mustachio bring the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant the frantic "Gallop." The Gardens include the iconic stairs that Dolly Gallagher Levi will descend, returning from a 10-year hiatus following the death of her husband, Ephraim Levi. “Hello Dolly” calls for the red gown and headdress that sets the tone for this show stopper. Buckley is clearly surrounded by talent that outshines her, yet she still brings a subtle elegance to her walk across the Golden Gate stage. "Hello, Dolly, well hello Dolly, it's so nice to have you back where you belong . . ."
"Some people paint, some people sew - I meddle” says the matchmaker. Buckley brings a vulnerable quality to the role of Dolly, a woman re-entering the spotlight of her life after standing widowed in the wings. Passing out her business cards, advertising everything from "instruction on the guitar and mandolin" to "varicose veins reduced” and eating the turkey leg at the Gardens in complete control, Buckley is a class act. Her solo "Before The Parade Passes By," one of the most hopeful songs in the American theatre songbook. Her eyes shimmering with tears, she again speaks to Ephraim, her long dead love. “One more ride of the merry-go-round of life” is all she asks.
“Hello, Dolly!” remains triumphant, but not because of the star at its center but with the strong featured company. Opening night, eager-to-applaud sold out audience was on their feet before Buckley took her bows. In 2020 Bay Area stages will produce two productions of Dolly and the local talent pool is eager to fill the roles in this best of Broadway. Opening night I saw many of our local favorite regional actors wide eyed and ready to bring Dolly home. Next up at SHN is actually HAMILTON down the street from the Golden Gate, and Roald Dahl's CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, opens April 16th at the GGT. TodayTix is offering Rush tickets for HELLO DOLLY for $40.00 day of show and two hours before each performance. No reason not to miss the trolley from Yonkers and to see Dolly! make her matches. “Dolly’ll never go away, again.”
SHN GOLDEN GATE
and Scott Ruban Presents
Based on “The Matchmaker” by Thornton Wilder
Book by Michael Stewart Music by Jerry Herman
Directed by Jerry Zaks
Originally Directed by Gower Champion
Featuring Betty Buckley
Must Close March 17th
Golden Gate Theatre
1 Taylor St., San Francisco
Tickets: 888-746-1799, www.shnsf.com
Running Time 2 hours 30 minutes with intermission
Tickets at https://www.shnsf.com/Online/default.asp
PHOTOS BY JULIETA CERVANTES
MEET THE CAST OF THE NATIONAL TOUR OF DOLLY!
HELLO DOLLY! PROMO
BEHIND THE SCENES