The Ridgelea Reports on Theatre
By Tom Nissley
What a terrific production! There are three things that this show -- one of Jerry Herman’s most memorable, with help from Thornton Wilder in the play upon which it’s based, “The Matchmaker” -- must have. First of all, an unforgettable personality in the title role, second, a team of dancing waiters, and finally, a staircase at the Harmonia Gardens. They’re all here. Adrian W. Jones’ set includes several staircases and a remarkable balcony that adds necessary real estate and beautiful flexibility to the scenes that define the story line. Kelli Barclay’s choreography, and Daniel Goldstein’s direction keep the audience gasping to catch up.
Klea Blackhurst is Dolly Levi, and you will not have to remember any other Dollys you have known after you’ve met her. She enters down the aisle passing out her cards to anyone who needs her help and making it clear that most people do. She demands the spotlight, whether she’s dispensing advice or eating an unforgettable ear of corn. She’s wearing a magnificent dress, several times over, which reminds me to tell you that the costumes, by Wade Laboissonneire, for everyone in every scene, are spectacular.
Ashley Brown’s Irene Malloy is wonderful. You’ll love her “Ribbons in my hair.” Tony Sheldon’s Horace Vandergelder is not only full of scrooge-like reactions but mellow in his conversion to philanthropy. And then there’s Spencer Moses, whose beanpole-like Cornelius Hackl is a show-stopper when he sings and dances with Jeremy Moss’ superb Barnaby, or later croons the lovely ballad, “It only takes a moment.”
All the ensemble deserve rave reviews -- whether they are being matched by Dolly’s gentle push, or marching down the aisle and everywhere on stage in the 14th Street Parade, or bouncing on the train ride from Yonkers to Manhattan or dancing in the Harmonia Gardens -- in every instance under the direction of Music Master Michael O’Flaherty.
The bottom line is that I can’t imagine how you could be unhappy at this production. It is geared to help you feel good about the world around you and yourself. Although it plays through September 14, my sources say grab tickets as soon as possible because they’re going fast. Go to www.goodspeed.org, or call 860-873-8668 for information or tickets.
Tom Nissley for the Ridgelea Reports on Theatre
July 19, 2013
Tom Nissley, for the Ridgelea Reports on Theatre