|Photo: Julieta Cervantes|
And then there is Bernadette Peters. When I saw the show with Bette Midler, I enjoyed it immensely, but Midler didn't even make believe she was playing Dolly (link to my review here). Bernadette Peters plays Dolly, and it raises the show a whole level up. I don't think she's a great actress, but she's warm and likable, and I love her voice, and she's Bernadette Peters. (In a scrapbook I have from my early teen years, I have an interview with her from 1969. I've been a fan for nearly half a century.)
Peters sings the role beautifully, if carefully. During her first couple of songs, I was worried. Her voice was tentative and a little rough, and she cut off words that would usually be held. But she was pacing herself, and by the time of "Before the Parade Passes By," she sounded fabulous.
Victor Garber also raises the show a level. In his interpretation of Horace Vandergelder, Horace is more bumbling and defensive than mean, and Garber uses "A Penny in My Pocket" to show a quietly charming side to the man. Also,, Garber and Peters have actual chemistry, which gives the show an emotional core. This was the first time I believed that these two people would and should end up together.
The last time I saw the show, Gavin Creel was out, and while his understudy was excellent, Creel is amazing. His voice is beautiful and strong, and his acting is perfect as the shy, love-struck Cornelius. The last time I saw him, where he was also wonderful, was as the oily Kodaly in She Loves Me. Now, that's range.
Kate Baldwin is lovely, as always. Charlie Stemp makes a charmingly doofy Barnaby, and I'm glad they gave him more dancing than the character usually has. He leaps and pops and mugs and makes joy physical. Molly Griggs is a sweet Minnie Fay; she has an impressively insane laugh that she smartly uses sparingly.
And then there are the dancers. Boy, do they ever earn their paychecks! Their stamina could put Olympic champions to shame, particularly in the dance at Harmonia Gardens, where each man does the work of two. Eight times a week.
Cast members who have not been mentioned yet by name--all wonderful: Will Burton (Ambrose Kemper), Melanie Moore (Ermengarde), Alli Mauzey (Ernestina), Kevin Ligon (Rudolph), Collin Baja (Ensemble), Giovanni Bonaventura (Ensemble), Justin Bowen (County Clerk, Ensemble), Maria Briggs (Ensemble), Darius Crenshaw (Ensemble), Taeler Cyrus (Ensemble), Julian Deguzman (Ensemble), Zachary Downer (Ensemble), Leslie Donna Flesner (Ensemble), Carmen Ruby Floyd (Ensemble), Jessica Lee Goldyn (Ensemble), Michael Hartung (Ensemble), Corey Hummerston (Ensemble), Aaron Kaburick (Ensemble), Amanda Lamotte (Ensemble), Michael Mccormick (Judge, Ensemble), Sarah Meahl (Ensemble), Jessica Sheridan (Ensemble), Travis Waldschmidt (Ensemble), Christian Dante White (Ensemble), Kristen Beth Williams (Ensemble), Branch Woodman (Ensemble), Richard Riaz Yoder (Ensemble).
Hello Dolly is also a complete delight just to look at. The scenery and costumes (Santo Loquasto) and lighting (Natasha Katz) are yummy.
As the curtain came down, all three tiers of the theatre burst into cheers. It felt good to give the performers back some of the amazing energy and love that they had given us.
(tdf ticket; last row mezz for act I; first row mezz for act II)