Hello, Dolly!

Date 7th March 2018
Society Southern Light Opera Company
Venue King's Theatre, Edinburgh
Type of Production Musical
Director Andy Johnston
Musical Director Crawford Moyes
Choreographer Louise Williamson


Author: Mike Pendlowski

The Southern Light Opera Company - 121 years young and still going strong!  - and, by the look of tonight’s performance, the current membership and their successors will surely keep the capital supplied with foot-tapping musicals well in to the next century!

This was unexpectedly the opening night for “Dolly” – delayed by one day due to the atrocious weather that wreaked havoc with many shows throughout Scotland.  However, no signs of opening night nerves with this Company. Cumulative years of experience have taken care of that and this has, no doubt, been passed on to their newer members.

Following a bright and lively overture with the orchestra in the most capable hands of MD Crawford Moyes, the opening choruses epitomised for me the Southern Light – chorus singing has always been of the highest quality, and this year was no exception. Whilst singing the praises of the chorus, I must also mention their high quality footwork, especially in the Act Two trio of consecutive, choreographed numbers, under the watchful eye of Choreographer Louise Williamson. 

Principals also rose to the occasion. If I may be allowed to misquote Dolly Levi (Elspeth Whyte) “Some people paint, some sew… I meddle –  I also act and sing!”.  Elspeth’s was a different take on the brash, over-the-top, frequent portrayal of the title character. Her soft-spoken, nevertheless deliberate deliveries added to the uniqueness of this production – sympathetically directed by Andy Johnston.  Using Dolly Levi’s stunning costumes as an example, the costuming of the show, in its entirety, was excellent. Dolly’s interaction with Horace Vandergelder (Alan Hunter) also proved  sound – with Alan’s immaculate costuming adding to his unmissable stage presence. This musical provides an outlet for two of my favourite comedy characters – Cornelius Hackl (John Bruce) and Barnaby Tucker (Matthew O’Hagan) both of whom worked and interacted so well with each other, never throwing away a line when the next one will do! Irene Malloy (Tanya Williamson) was on excellent form, with her “Ribbons Down My Back” being one of the many “memorable moments” of the show. Ermengarde (Robyn McCormack) and Ambrose Kemper (Matt McDonagh) formed an excellent partnership with good individual characters .portyrayed,  Minnie Faye (Nicola Dryburgh ) also gave a fine performance..

“Hello Dolly” provides opportunity for a host of minor principals all of whom have their own well defined characterisations and tonight these were all carried out with excellence!

A word on the technical side.   This was Scenic Projects smaller set for “Hello Dolly”, nevertheless it worked well on the Kings stage, with no major hold-ups in the scene changes. Costumes as previously mentioned were immaculate and in period.  Lighting and sound – well, I could see and hear everyone on stage, so no complaints there!

Thank you so much SLO for inviting me over to report on your show once again, and, yet again, for not disappointing! Thank you also for the warm hospitality shown, not only to myself, but to NODA National President Nick Lawrence and Scottish Councillor Stuart McCue-Dick who were also present.