Hello Dolly, King’s Theatre Edinburgh, Review:
**** 4 Stars
“Sparkles with Broadway joy!”
Hello, Dolly! a 1964 musical with lyrics and music by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart. Based on Thornton Wilder’s 1938 farce The Merchant of Yonkers, the musical tells the story of Dolly Gallagher Levi (played with grace and charm by Elspeth White), as she travels to Yonkers, New York, to find a match for the miserly “well-known unmarried half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder. In doing so she persuades his niece, his niece’s intended, and Horace’s two clerks to travel to New York City, to experience a slice of the high life whilst finding true love along the way.
Hello Dolly, is currently enjoying a major revival on Broadway at the Schubert Theatre with the Great Better Midler handing the role to Bernadette Peters, back home in Scotland, Southern Light Opera better know as SLO have chosen the show for their annual outing in Edinburgh’s Kings theatre and deliver an evening of glitzy Broadway esq theatre.
With such a large ensemble and smaller number of principal roles it’s an interesting and brave choice of a show considering the success its currently enjoying across the Atlantic, but director Andy Johnston knows his king’s audiences well and lets comedy, pathos and musical talent shine through, that despite the odd set difficulty and sound issue, charms the audience into submission.
Elspeth White is a fitting “Dolly” with excellent comedy timing and winning charm with a voice to match. Playing opposite her in the role of Horace Vandergelder is Alan Hunter who gives everything he has got the role, much of which is to be applauded even if his accent falters often during the performance you can’t help but be won over.
John Bruce delivers the goods as “Cornelius Hacki” bring a sense of mature charm opposite Matthew O’Hagan as “Barnaby Tucker”, O’Hagan brings a cute boyishness to the role and excels being the most eternally watchable on stage and proving he will go far in theatre. The boys love interests are brought to life by Tanya Williamson as “Irene Mallow” showcasing a gutsy performance with full throated vocals to match alongside Nicola Dryburgh in the role of “Minnie Fay”. A huge standout in the production is Scott Walker for his excellent slapstick comedy routine as the Harmonia Gardens Chef that see’s laugher ringing round the kings.
The production is choreographed by Louise Williamson who delivers big Broadway numbers with aplomb, using a core de dance troupe of which Andrew Brown truly shines for his execution of the myriad of characters he gives life to through the dance form. Williamson also gets to grips with the large ensemble cast ensuring Busby Berkley motifs are present throughout.
The topping on the cake is the large 24-piece orchestra under the baton of Crawford Moyes who power through the bulky score with ease. This coupled with a functional set and a graceful and inventive lighting design by James Gow all combine together to prove the SLO can switch direction and revive a Broadway classic that sends the audiences home with sparkles of Broadway Joy ”SLO’s Hello Dolly” is job a well done indeed, and well worth catching!
Southern Light Opera Present “Hello Dolly” King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Runs Until Saturday 10th March. For tickets go to http://www.capitaltheatres.com/hellodolly