Hello, Dolly! – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Marriages used to be arranged, frequently by parents without the knowledge or consent of the prospective bride and groom. Today people often signup on dating sites, using the internet to make acquaintances. Not so long ago there were individuals who arranged matches. 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 Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts and say “Hello, Dolly!” This recent revival won four Tony Awards.

Until Sunday, November 17, 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 Bushnell thanks to a new National Tour.

Carolee Carmello’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 (John Bolton), 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 (Daniel Beeman) and Barnaby (Sean Burns), 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 (Laura Sky Herman ) finds happiness in the arms of her suitor Ambrose (Colin LeMoine). She also manages to tie ribbons of romance around Cornelius and the suitable milliner Irene (Analise Leaming) as well as for Barnaby and the cute as a button Minnie (Chelsea Cree Groen).

The scene in the Harmonia Gardens when a staff of skillful waiters headed by Rudolph (Blake Hammond) 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 on a versatile set by Santo Loquesto, the smooth direction of Jerry Zaks matches beautifully with the fancy footwork choreography of Warren Carlyle, lighting by Natasha Katz, sound by Scott Lehrer and music direction by Andy Einhorn. 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 delicious to see and hear.

For tickets ($31 and up), call The Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at www.bushnell.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

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

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