Hello, Dolly! is a wealth of soft-shoe numbers, rich singing, and truly a playful plotline currently on stage at the Bowie Playhouse by 2nd Star Productions. From the first note of “I Put My Hand In” to the grand finale “It Only Takes a Moment: Part II,” Nori Morton as the legendary Dolly Levi, is a shining star. Dolly is a middle-aged widow who is trying to restart her life. She is a matchmaker, meddler, opportunist, and entrepreneur as she charmingly hands out her business cards with her broad-spectrum talents. And this also describes Morton. She is a triple talent with her singing, dancing, and acting and to complete the whole package, Morton is just gorgeous. Her lovely physique is perfect for the beautiful 1890s costumes designed by Linda Swann. From the sleek pin-striped suit with ruffles to Dolly’s sparkling red dinner gown, and the breath-taking white lace dress, all accompanied by a big decorative hat, Ms. Swann detailed creations are outstanding.
Equal to Morton’s voice is the wonderful song-stylings found in Gene Valendo, who takes on the role of Horace Vandergelder. A client of Dolly’s and the object of her eye, Vandergelder owns the Hay & Feed store. He too is a widower and a well-known half-a-millionaire. Valendo plays Vandergelder as authoritative, gruff, and quite ornery yet Dolly does not give up on winning his affections. Morton and Valendo team up on “It Takes a Woman – Reprise.”
…this production is a magical and a must-see summer event!
Nathan Bowen as Cornelius and Daniel Starnes as Barnaby are indeed gifted with their comic timing and stage moves, whether it is a soft-shoe or a larger-than-life tumbling around the stage. Store clerks at the Hay & Feed, they devise an “explosive” plan to shut down the store for 24-hours so they can venture to New York City. The pairing of Bowen and Starnes is exceptional as their exuberance lights the stage and their voices fill the theatre.
Add in Pam Shilling as Irene Molloy and Colleen Coleman as Minne Fay and this quartet is an attractive combination not only in looks but talent as well. As Cornelius pursues Mrs. Molloy, Barnaby easily takes a liking to Minne. They all meet at a hat shop in New York only to have the boy’s employer, Mr. Vandergelder show up. As Cornelius and Barnaby try to hide from him, enter Dolly and the amusement ensues. Mrs. Molloy’s purple skirt actually matches Minnie’s plaid skirt, lush with green’s and blues. Additionally, Irene’s green and black lace dress is just spectacular. Bowen, Starnes, Shilling, and Coleman give a charming performance of “Elegance,” however, the combination of Bowen and Shilling on “It Only Takes a Moment” is heart-warming.
Josh Hampton plays Ambrose Kemper, a young struggling artist who hopes to marry Ermengarde played by Emily Freeman – Mr. Vandergelder’s niece. Ermengarde cries all the time but it is always Ambrose who lends a shoulder. They make a cute couple and Freeman is truly annoying with the crying and her ugly facial expression which means – this gal can act.
The Waiters at the Harmonia Gardens restaurant perform a vaudeville-like number, “March to Harmonia Gardens.” Quick dance steps and the interchange of food props, all while serving dinner, is quite comical. It is at the restaurant where Ernestina Money, played by the funny and remarkable Rebecca Feibel, is having dinner with Mr. Vandergelder. Ernestina is bawdy and definitely not Mr. Vandergelder’s type. However, her shiny pink satin dress with yellow and pink boas suits her character’s personality.
Rudolf played by Tim Sayles, is the Maître d’ at the Harmonia Gardens, adds to the comedic exchanges in the restaurant scene. As does the role of Mrs. Rose played by Heather Jeweler; Mrs Rose is a street vendor who sells vegetables and is a friend of Dolly’s from years before. The role of the Judge played by Mark Jeweler is a white-haired night court judge who easily moved to tears by romance.
An ensemble cast of twenty-two players is just exceptional. Their voices melded together in such great numbers as “Hello, Dolly” and “Before the Parade Passes By.” Vincent Musgrave choreographed this multi-faceted group carefully and cleverly.
The set was designed and constructed by Jane B. Wingard, Bill Bagaria, Joanne Wilson and Marty Hayes. A series of scenic back drops from landscape to cityscape, show were the story takes place, New York City and Yonkers, New York. From the Feed Store to the Hat Shop, train stations and the lavish Harmonia Gardens Restaurant, the set designs transport viewers to another place and time.
The original book for Hello, Dolly! is by Michael Stewart, music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, and this show is directed by Jane Wingard, this production is a magical and a must-see summer event!
Running Time: Approximately 2 hours with a 15-minute intermission.
Hello, Dolly! is running through June 29, 2014, at the Bowie Playhouse by 2nd Star Productions, 16500 White Marsh Park Drive, Bowie, MD 20715. For tickets call (410) 757-5700 or (301) 832-4819 or click here.