"HELLO, DOLLY!" A MATCHMAKER'S DREAM


BONNIE GOLDBERG

Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi is a woman of considerable talents and infinite skills, from providing social introductions to reducing those pesky varicose veins, teaching guitar, poker or dancing, reboning corsets or offering short distance hauling. Her primary claim to fame, however, is as a matchmaker. Think Yenta from "Fiddler on the Roof," but with more polish and personality. To make the acquaintance of the captivating Mrs. Levy, sashay over to the Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam and say "Hello, Dolly!"

Until Saturday, September 14, this charming musical with book by Michael Stewart and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, based on the play "The Matchmaker" by Thornton Wilder, will grace the Goodspeed Stage.

Klea Blackhurst's Dolly is delightful and is a clever and calculating lady, but in the nicest way possible, one who excels in arranging things. At the moment, she is on her way to Yonkers, New York to handle the delicate matrimonial desires of one Horace Vandergelder (Tony Sheldon), the famous half a millionaire. He runs a successful feed and grain store and worships money, but since his wife died he is lonely. As he sings "It Takes a Woman," with his clerks Cornelius (Spencer Moses) and Barnaby (Jeremy Morse), one wonders if he truly wants a loving wife or a capable housekeeper.

Dolly has set her sights on Horace as a suitable match for herself, although he has no knowledge of her plan. She just needs a sign from her late husband Efraim that he approves. While Dolly is occupied handling Horace, she is also busy making sure Horace's niece Ermengarde (Brooke Shapiro) finds happiness in the arms of her suitor AmbroseĀ  (Charles MacEachern). She also manages to tie ribbons of romance around Cornelius and the suitable milliner Irene (Ashley Brown) as well as for Barnaby and the cute as a button Minnie (Catherine Blades).

The scene in the Harmonia Gardens when a staff of skillful waiters headed by Rudolph (Jack Doyle) go through their polished paces like a well trained military corps is a delight. How Dolly "arranges" everything and everyone to perfection is a joy to behold. With a colorful parade of costumes by Wade Laboissonniere, on a versatile set by Adrian W. Jones, the smooth direction of Daniel Goldstein matches beautifully with the fancy footwork choreography of Kelli Barclay. Songs like "Put on Your Sunday Clothes," "Ribbons Down My Back," "Before the Parade Passes By," "It Only Takes a Moment" and the title tune are a delicious to see and hear.

For tickets ($27 and up), call Goodspeed Musicals, on the Connecticut River, East Haddam at 860-873-8668 or online at www.goodspeed.org. Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and select 3 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., with select 6:30 p.m.

Let the versatile Mrs. Levi arrange a thoroughly captivating afternoon or evening of entertainment for you. Bonnie GoldbergYou'll be singing her praises "wow wow wow" because it's so nice to have her right where she belongs.

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