Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Diego

Hello, Dolly!
National Tour
Review by Bill Eadie | Season Schedule

Lewis J. Stadlen, Betty Buckley, and Cast
Photo by Julieta Cervantes
Broadway/San Diego opened January 2018 with the tour of Hamilton, arguably the most popular and honored contemporary musical. It follows in January 2019 with the tour of the Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly!, arguably the most popular musical of its day, debuting here on the day the original star, Carol Channing, died, one day before the 55th anniversary of the show's original Broadway opening.

And, they did it right in both cases. Hamilton featured the debut of the tour cast, and the energy generated was palpable. Dolly proves to be an old-fashioned musical done right, with a cast of 24 and an orchestra of 19.

The Dolly Broadway creative team have ably reproduced their work for the tour, with Jerry Zaks directing, Warren Carlyle choreographing, with stellar designs by Santo Loquasto (scenic and costume), Natasha Katz (lighting), and Scott Lehrer (sound).

Based on Thornton Wilder's play The Matchmaker, Michael Stewart's book tells the story of Dolly Gallagher Levi, a self-proclaimed matchmaker (as well as a number of other professions, each for which she has a calling card handy to present as needed). She is working with a crusty, well-to-do, client named Horace Vandergelder, but quickly decides that she's going after him herself. Meanwhile, Horace's employees Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker escape Yonkers and go to New York City to have fun, attend the 14th Street parade, and kiss a girl for the first time. Also escaping Yonkers are Horace's niece Ermengarde and her boyfriend Ambrose Kemper. The excitable young woman named Ermengarde takes to shrieking at any opportunity.

Once in New York, Cornelius and Barnaby take refuge in a hat shop owned by Irene Molloy and staffed by Minnie Fay, who earlier had caught Barnaby's eye. Cornelius is immediately smitten with Irene. It turns out that Horace had originally been introduced to Irene and was on his way to see her, but Dolly intervenes, promising to introduce him to Ernestina Money, who was supposedly wealthier (but who, in reality, would make it easier for Horace to pay attention to Dolly herself).

Conveniently, after the parade, all of the characters end up at the Harmonia Gardens restaurant, where the matchmaking plays itself out and everyone ends up happy with the results.

Jerry Herman's score features the iconic title song, which has been covered by numerous artists, but most notably by Louis Armstrong, "Before the Parade Passes By," "Put on Your Sunday Clothes," and "It Only Takes a Moment." One of the numbers cut from the original, "Penny in My Pocket," has been restored in this version, and it makes a charming substitute for an entr'acte orchestral piece.

The cast can be credited with uniformly solid performances. As Cornelius and Irene, Nic Rouleau and Analisa Leaming are nicely paired with the most "legit" voices in the cast. Likewise, Jess LeProtto as Barnaby and Kristen Hahn as Minnie are fine dance partners. The quality of these matches forces Garett Hawe as Ambrose and Morgan Kirner as Ermengarde to recede into the background (and, truth be told, Ms. Kirner's shrieking succeeds perhaps too well in its charge to be annoying).

As Horace, stage veteran Lewis J. Stadlen gives a canny performance and almost walks away with the show. As it turns out, though, he's well matched with Betty Buckley's Dolly. Ms. Buckley gives a straight-ahead, no-nonsense performance that never resorts to mugging to be funny. Ms. Buckley's voice is beyond its prime, but she nevertheless sells Mr. Herman's songs expertly and preserves physical and vocal energy for the substantial demands of act two.

Hello, Dolly! is a great big Broadway show that packs San Diego's cavernous Civic Theatre to the rafters and causes a near eruption during Mr. Zaks and Mr. Carlyle's expertly staged curtain call.

Hello, Dolly!, through January 20, 2019, at San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 3rd and B Street, San Diego CA. Performances are Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 6:30 p.m., with matinees on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster. For more information on the tour, visit

Ensemble performers include: Maddy Apple, Daniel Beeman, Brittany Bohn, Giovanni Bonaventura, Elizabeth Broadhurst, Whitney Cooper, Julian DeGuzman, Wally Dunn, Alexandra Frohlinger, Dan Horn, Corey Hummerston, Madison Johnson, Nathan Keen, Beth Kirkpatrick, Ben Lanham, Ian Liberto, Kyle Samuel, Scott Shedenhelm, Timothy Shew, Maria Cristina Slye, Cassie Austin Taylor, Davis Wayne, Brandon L. Whitmore, and Connor Wince.