PHOTO: Sally Struthers stars in the touring production of “Hello, Dolly!”
The show is about second-time love – with two widows and one widower – and an all-out desire to break shackles and find love, finally, at age 33. The characters are worth rooting for and having fun with.
The “Hello, Dolly!” tour is a celebration of success. We don’t celebrate failures. Going in, the audience knows this musical is solid at the core.
The touring production (it’s 4 stars out of 5 good) stars Sally Struthers. Now, going in, you know there is no “Sally Struthers Greatest Hits” album. She is best known as a TV actress, most indelibly from many years ago at that. So you’re not expecting her to sing like a lark. She doesn’t have to. But then again, Struthers doesn’t, either. She’s got a warble at times. But Struthers makes the character of the meddlesome, pushy and lonesome Dolly Gallagher Levi her own in her way – strong of sentiment, with a dusting of comedy.
On opening night Wednesday, the 60 percent filled
SONG LIST: “Call on Dolly,” “I Put My Hand In,” “It Takes a Woman,” “Put on Your Sunday Clothes,” “Ribbons Down My Back,” “Motherhood,” “Dancing,” “Before the Parade Passes By,” “Elegance,” “The Waiters Gallop,” “Hello, Dolly!” “The Polka Contest,” “It Only Takes a Moment,” “So Long Dearie.”
The production has a strong road company.
If you want to see the versatility it takes to be a professional music theater performer today, see “Hello, Dolly!”
There’s a little, live orchestra, too, with the music director’s arms at times visible from the pit as he cues singers on stage.
In the featured roles, Matt Wolfe is right on as Cornelius Hackl. Cornelius is the forever put-upon clerk who finally gets fed up with his cheapskate boss, Horace Vandergelder (John O’Creagh). As Cornelius decides enough is enough and takes young clerk Barnaby Tucker (Garett Hawe) from Yonkers to New York City for a fling (with a goal of kissing a girl, oh boy!), the show bursts with comedy, desire and energy because of Wolfe’s performance. All Cornelius feels on seeing and instantly falling in love with widow Irene Malloy (Lauren Blackman) is wonderfully expressed.
The show turns back the clock in two ways. The story looks back to the late 1800s, with steam trains, horse-drawn carriages, a store with a manual cash register, etc. The song, “It Takes a Woman,” reflects past attitudes toward marriage (though it still gets laughs today).
SIDE NOTE: This may be miniscule. A banner is carried in the parade that says “NYPD No. 36.” Maybe such a banner has always been in the show, from 1964 on. Seeing it today, I think “9/11.” It adds a tug to feelings about the show. At least mine.
FUN NOTES: On Broadway, Sally Struthers starred in the female version of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple.” That means she worked with Tony Shalhoub, who also was in that production. Shalhoub is the
John O’Creagh was in the national tour of “West Side Story” in the role of Doc, the part played on Broadway by Greg Vinkler, artistic director of
Thornton Wilder wrote “The Matchmaker,” the play upon which “Hello, Dolly!” is based. Wilder was born in
VENUE: Thrivent Financial Hall is the main theater of Fox Cities Performing Arts Center on
You may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch for my on-air features on WFRV at 6:45 p.m. Thursdays and every other Sunday between 6 and 8 a.m. (usually around 7:45 a.m.)