15th April 2016
St Michael's Church Hall Wigan
Type of Production
Jayne Lloyd and Alexandra Keogh
Author: Patricia Connor
~~is sometime since I last saw Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart’s musical "Hello Dolly”, based on Thornton Wilder’s 1955 play “The Matchmaker” and I am happy to say that “Wigan Musical Theatre Group’s” production reminded me just how entertaining this feel good show is. However grand old musicals with big production numbers like this one usually need room to dazzle, so performing this musical in such a limited venue with a small stage could have had its pitfalls and problems, but I am glad to say that under the Direction of Frances Cheetham with Musical Direction from Joan Bond and Choreography by Jayne Lloyd and Alexandra Keogh this production had its own sparkle resulting in a very enjoyable entertaining show where the cast appeared to be enjoying themselves immensely performing the many well-known musical numbers and bringing all the characters to life. The efficient use of the stage, scenery, good props and beautiful colourful costumes also added to the success of the production. Clare Hodkinson appeared to understand the character of the show's unstoppable life force; Dolly Levi the headstrong widow and matchmaker and gave a strong enjoyable performance in this demanding central role with lots of poise. She was complimented very well by Mark Fenton who produced a secure performance with just the right amount of benign bluster as cantankerous widower Horace Vandergelder. Josh Robinson was very likeable as the put-upon clerk Cornelius Hackl who falls for sweet, but spunky widow and hat shop proprietor Irene Molloy, played engagingly by Helen Ayres. Cornelius’s side kick Barnaby Tucker was entertainingly played by Connor Bishop who was complimented very well by Jayne Lloyd as good-natured hat shop assistant Minnie Fay, these four actors performed well together resulting in many good comedy moments and Rachael Moulton as the constantly weeping Ermengarde and Philip Makin as the very patient Ambrose Kemper also made a nice couple. There was also a comedic cameo performance from Wendy Cox as Ernestina and the principal cast were well supported by the actors in the smaller supporting roles as well as by the hard working enthusiastic chorus. Diction and clarity of words was generally satisfactory although there was a problem with the microphones in the first act, mostly during the musical numbers, however the majority of cast projected well so could still be heard. American accents were generally good as was the overall comic timing which is necessary for the characters in this show.
The orchestra supported the cast playing very well at just the right level of sound and choreography which suited the show and the limitations of venue very well was performed well by the cast and chorus, with a special mention to the Waiters/Dancers who performed their routines skilfully with lovely broad smiles on their faces
Well done to all the stage and technical crew and everyone involved in bringing this enjoyable entertaining production to the stage, we had a lovely evening, thank you for inviting us. Hope to see you for your next production