The dreary Philadelphia winter brought with it many touring national productions. Among those shows, “Hello, Dolly!,” transformed the Forrest Theater into Yonkers, New York in the late 1800s, trading in jean jackets for hoop skirts and hats. The musical comedy, which originally opened in 1964, starring Carol Channing and David Burns basically invented the color red, as shown in Dolly’s iconic diner look and the shiny playbill itself.
“Hello, Dolly!,” starring “The Addams Family” and “Funny Girl” alum Carolee Carmello as the title role of matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi delights alongside John Bolton, Broadway’s original Vlad in “Anastasia,” returning now opposite her as Horace Vandergelder. “Hello, Dolly!” won the 2017 award for Best Revival of a Musical, as well as scoring three other wins in a total of 10 nominations. The show follows clever matchmaker Dolly as she attempts to find a match for Hay & Feed owner Horace Vandergelder (amid other shenanigans).
Despite debuting in 1964, this show (set in the turn of the twentieth century) still captivates audiences. Carmello’s hilarious performance leaves the audience reeling, as she feeds off the house’s energy through two brightly-lit acts. I was pleasantly surprised at just how entertaining this classic show turned out to be. I wasn’t phased by the old-fashioned setting, rather I marveled at the romantic and rich aesthetics of the show.
Once Carmello appeared in the iconic red headdress during the title song, you could tell that her performance was majestic. her portrayal of Dolly transforms her into a master of wit, charm, and a jack-of-all-trades with a fantastic sense of humor. Truly, the beauty of this show lies within Carmello’s strong-willed and energetic performance. I was excited to see Bolton up there with her. After seeing him in “Anastasia” back in 2016, his performance of Vandergelder emitted the same nervous yet aged wisdom that Bolton excels with time and time again.
The revival tour does not disappoint fans of the musical classic. It’s catchy, clean and sophisticated, reminding the audience of a time much simpler while still paying homage to the romantic inside us all. Dolly believes in young love and second chances in addition to making a pretty penny. Much of the glitz and glam of this show lies in the second act, amid lavish dinner parties, pristine choreography and close harmonies which the development and introduction of the main cast is the shining jewel of the first act.
As “Hello, Dolly!” makes its way across America, it carries with it an expansive set, making each performance feel just like Broadway. The show even includes a train in the opening act. It’s smooth performance was pulled off effortlessly by the crew and creative team.
The revival tour comes to a close at the end of this month Rochester, NY after an almost two-year run across the US.