Hello Dolly!

Date 16th May 2015
Society Riverside Musical Theatre Company
Venue Park View School, Chester-le-street
Type of Production Musical
Director Sheila May
Musical Director Sheila May
Choreographer Sheila May

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Author: Gordon Richardson

Hello Dolly’s story is well known – Dolly Levi, a widow who in her own words likes to interfere, is a ‘matchmaker’ who has her eyes set on Horace Vandergelder (the well-known half millionaire) as her second husband, and is looking for a ‘sign’ from her beloved late first husband ‘Ephraim’. In order to achieve these aims she sets Horace up with ‘unsuitable’ matches so that she ends up the only viable option for him – whilst managing to arrange the union of three other couples en-route.

Kathy Bevan, who sang the title number “Hello Dolly” in fine fashion, looked and acted every inch the typical self-confident but with a vulnerable edge, matchmaker Dolly. Her intended ‘catch’, Horace Vandergelder – the no nonsense, almost misogynistic hay and feed store owner of Yonkers, was played in wonderful fashion by Peter Johnson – his character being developed nicely in the superb “It takes a Woman” number, and never straying throughout the whole performance. His ‘weepy’ niece, Ermengarde, and her would-be boyfriend, Ambrose, were played by Jessica Edmondston and David Graham respectively, whilst ‘Dolly’ promised them that ‘Horace’ would eventually accept them and ‘dance at their wedding’.

Horace’s shop assistants, 33 year old Cornelius Hackyl (Andrew Fearon) and 17 year old Barnaby Tucker (Martyn Hampton-Matthews) plot to get an ‘adventure’ in NYC by manipulating an evening off. There they meet the hat shop owner, Irene Molloy (Ashlee Bentham), and her assistant, Minnie Fay (Kirsty Neasham). A high spot for me was the scene during the ‘Motherhood March’ which was very funny and well choreographed between all the main principals involved. Another high spot was Irene Molloy’s solo “Ribbons Down My Back, which was sung with emotion and control.

Other minor but nevertheless important principal roles were well played by Steve Laws as the Teutonic ‘Rudolph’, head waiter at the ‘Harmonia Gardens’ (Dolly’s favourite restaurant), Lynn Chapman as Mrs. Rose, the Irish friend of Dolly, and the undoubted comedic talents of Margaret Hampton-Matthews as ‘Ernestina’, the hungry ‘Miss Money’.

Set was minimalistic but adequate and well moved by stage crew; Costumes were fine, especially Dolly’s finale outfit. Choreography was fine with a highlight being the waiters’ gallop. A musical quartet of two pianos, a guitar and percussion provided the accompaniment (although it must be mentioned that the percussion was a little heavy at times). The members of the chorus played their part well, and all ended well as ‘Horace’ capitulated to progress, spread around his money to help the more unfortunate, and allowed Dolly to obtain her sign from ‘Ephraim’.

Well done Riverside.