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Sunday, November 18, 2018

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Theater Review: ‘Hello, Dolly!’ performance dazzles audience


Love is in the air and spring is on its way. How appropriate it is then, that Hello, Dolly! should be on hand to welcome theater lovers to the most amorous of the four seasons.

Since its original run on Broadway in 1964, Hello, Dolly! has been a favorite, dominating the Tony Awards after its debut season. This run of the venerable musical is its first after an absence of 15 years from the Theatre Under The Stars lineup.

Dolly Gallagher Levi is a self-described and self-employed meddler who uses her celebrity and comical asides to bring a fanfare of love, among other things, to any person she meets who will accept her services.

A widow, and perhaps something of a gold digger, she understands the role that love plays in life and has made it her life mission to ensure that all are to live a fulfilling one.

Despite the dusty old mores the musical works with, the charm is still the same and the characters are just as playful and universal as they ever were. And this doesn’t just extend to the headliners. What really makes a production like this so exciting and lovely are the dozens of supporting characters who inject the story with energy and majesty at every opportunity.

They don’t serve to bring the story down to earth like extras in a film, proudly grounded in reality; in fact, their purpose seems to be just the opposite and that’s quite all right.

More than just a moving part of the set, the dancers are bright and lively, and many of their movements are truly a sight to behold. The choreography is as deliberate as it is extravagant.

Speaking of the set, we have come a long way since your high school musical. Not only do the backdrops and props go a long way to really help the audience get their heads around the setting, but they are also absolutely stunning. The story may have stuck to its roots, but the modernized set helps the audience appreciate the timeless themes a little better. It is obvious that absolutely no expense is spared in order to bring us to Dolly’s Yonkers, N.Y.

This, of course, isn’t to say that the major cast members weren’t out-of-this-world fabulous, because they were. Especially the lead – for years a sweetheart of the stage, Leslie Uggams took the role of Dolly and made it her own, as women in the role tend to do.

In Dolly’s signature red dress, Uggams shines, and not just because the sparkles on her costume twinkle like the stars. Her performance, especially of the title tune, illuminates the venue and enlightens the lucky patrons. Not only does she own the deliciously flamboyant number, she is positively radiant, and it’s easy to see the spirit of Dolly Levi truly lives within her.


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