Book by Michael Stewart
Based on “The Matchmaker” by Thornton Wilder
Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman
Choreography by Ellie Potts Barrett
Music Direction by Jamey Ray
Directed by Jennifer Cavenaugh
Starring Jessica Raspolich, James Blaisdell and Taylor Wright
Annie Russel Theatre, Winter Park FL</strong>
Hello, Dolly? Are you in there? This classic musical is one of the biggest hits of the midcentury musical theatre golden age, and here the sets and costume glimmer while the lead seems curiously disinterested and disconnected. Dolly Levi (Raspolich) suffers from widowhood and a small purse; her Yentl hustle keeps her going and her jaundiced view of marriage colors her attitude. While notionally hired to provide rich and cranky Horace Vandergelder (Blaisdell) with a young, compliant wife, Ms. Levi sets her cap on his bank account. When he leaves Yonkers and travels to new York for the final paperwork his clerks Cornelius (Wright) and Barnaby (Chase Bahorich) sneak along with him intent on seeing the stuffed whale and maybe, just maybe, kissing a girl. The all get more than they set out to achieve.
Mrs. Raspolich looks suave and statuesque but offers little emotion or reaction to anything. Her stakes are high and her temperature low; is she just an ice cold cruiser in a man’s world? Vandergelder and the clerks are much more animated; they approach trouble with a Keystone Cops energy and you feel no matter what they say, they mean it. Irene Malloy (Emily Walton) got the raw deal here; she was offered Vandergelder’s purse for her honor but she ends up with the more active and friendly Cornelius. Pick love or money; it’s hard to get both. MiKayla Philips plays the teary-eyed daughter Ermengarde; she’s in a permanent snit and fells like the one really high maintenance person on this stage.
The Rollins scenic crew did wonders with the simple stage and complex lighting; there’s glitter and feathers and a confetti cannon, and deep down in the pit an excellent orchestra led by Jamey Ray plays as good as any Broadway ensemble. The dance numbers took center stage here;Ms. Barret stuck close to the film’s choreography but never let it feel old; after all this show is an old friend that should never let you down. Its big, it’s brassy, and just falls a little short of excellent.
For more information on the Annie Russell Theatre at Rollins College, please visit http://www.rollins.edu/annierussell/current_season/index.html