Quote of the Day: “Hello, Dolly!” with 12 people on stage and 4 in the band sounds like a bit of a silly idea for those who have known and loved the big beautiful productions of “Hello, Dolly!” over the years. But when it is THESE 12 people and THIS band and THIS fantastic group of theater makers, it’s the best news I have heard all year! Kelli Foster Warder, from “Letters from the Director & Choreographer” in the program for Theater Latte’ Da’s Hello, Dolly!
Kelli Foster Warder directs a charming production of Hello, Dolly! I laughed, I sighed, I cried. The actors are all fully committed to their roles and give each character pizzazz. I attended the performance on Saturday evening, Feb. 11, where Deidre Cochran filled in for the role of Dolly Levi. Regina Marie Williams, who normally plays Dolly, was out to attend a funeral. (Sending condolences to her and her family.)
A great theater experience for me is when I can witness a heartfelt performance, whether it be a big Broadway style show or one that is told with only the actors, using their bodies, voices, and soul. At Theater Latte’ Da, I experience this at every production. When the actors are all in, like they are in Hello, Dolly!, I’m taken on the emotional ride that the actors experience through their characters. Deidre Cochran did an amazing job filling in for this iconic role. The older I get, the more I appreciate the character and the women who get to play Dolly Levi. She’s re-emerging into the world. She was once a young socialite, the talk of the town, and hanging on her husband Ephram’s arm. Now, she is Dolly Levi, master of all trades, and her own destiny. She is fully in control, albeit a bit manipulative at times. But, that’s what makes it fun.
Of course, the musical score is fantastic. Musical theater enthusiasts can probably sing along to most of the songs. They speak to love, community, dreams, and enjoying the sweetness of life. I got teary when Reed Sigmund, as Cornelius, sang his beautiful ballad, “It Only Takes a Moment.” I smiled when China Brickey, as Irene, sang “Ribbons Down My Back,” a gorgeous voice singing a favorite, gorgeous song. The title song, “Hello, Dolly” was darling, with the actors doing a quick costume change to welcome Dolly back to the Harmonia Gardens, and her role in society. The three featured dancers, Elly Stahlke, Kyle Weiler, and Jordan M. Leggett nearly stole the show for me several times during dance numbers. They were both exquisite and whimsical.
This wonderful, diverse cast gives the feel of a real community. Brian Kim McCormick plays Barnaby with humor and wonder. Anna Hashizume is darling as Minnie Fay. Riley McNutt plays the patient and musically talented Ambrose to Janely Rodriguez’ melodramatic Ermengarde. Their interactions always made me chuckle. T. Mychael Rambo is terrific as the curmudgeonly cranky Horace Vandergelder, in need of a good woman. And, of course, I could listen to him sing all day. Sally Wingert delights as all her various characters.
The set, designed by Eli Sherlock, is magical. Sides open up to the shops, the private dining areas, and hidden areas. The colors pop, and signage from shops on the street line the sides. Of course, you they have the iconic stairway that Dolly descends for her grand entrance. Costumes by Rich Hamson are divine! All those gorgeous dresses and hats, and the old-time suits that the men always wore. Sound Design by Kevin Springer and lighting by Jeff Brown add to the experience. Wigs, makeup, and hair by Emma Gustafson. Overall a standing ovation to the entire cast and crew!
You can see Hello, Dolly! at Theater Latte’ Da through March 19, 2023. Get your tickets soon. This is a popular show that will likely sell out many of its performances. Plus, this cast, with this four piece band, lead by music director Sanford Moore, under the direction of Kelli Foster Warder, is one of the best things you’ll see all year!
*Performances extended through March 26. Get your tickets fast!
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: Have you ever had the feeling of re-emerging into society? (Maybe we all have because of the pandemic) What would be your theme song?
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It’s a familiar play so the audience will know if a group doesn’t do it justice.