Views from the Stalls and Views from the Sofa - My reviews and thoughts on all things theatre and television. Follow me on Twitter @LikeTheMonth_

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Hello, Dolly! - Review - Leicester Curve Theatre

Saturday 19th January 2013 – Matinee 

Yesterday I braved the snow for my first show of 2013 and made my way to Leicester’s Curve Theatre to catch their Christmas production, ‘Hello, Dolly!’, on its final day.

The eponymous Mrs Dolly Gallagher Levi is a matchmaker and ‘meddler’, doling out business cards showing her as a professional in anything you need to her to be. She sets her sights on cantankerous half-a-millionaire Horace Vandergelder and nothing will stand in her way.   

Janie Dee was perfect as the irrepressible Dolly; witty, charming and with a rich singing voice, she was immensely likeable and as she broke the fourth wall and smiled out to the audience, she had everyone immediately on her side.   

The entire production was extremely well cast, with Dale Rapley giving enough depth to Vandergelder that his inevitable about turn felt believable. My favourite leading man Michael Xavier was in typically fine form as Cornelius Hackl, Vandergelder’s goofy and sweet-natured Chief Clerk. Xavier has a beautiful, strong voice and his Act Two solo ‘It Only Takes a Moment’ was a highlight.  Along with his assistant Barnaby Tucker (Jason Denton) and with a little push in the right direction by Dolly, Cornelius sets out on an adventure to the bright lights of New York and ‘won’t return until he’s kissed a girl’.  The girl in question is Irene Molloy, played here by Laura Pitt-Pulford who also has a crystal clear voice and sang an exquisite solo, ‘Ribbons Down My Back’ in Act One.   Xavier and Pitt-Pulford are undoubtedly two of the strongest musical theatre performers in the UK at the moment and although I have no idea what shows they will appear in next, I do know that I will be there!

The showstopping title track was vividly brought to life by Dee and an extremely talented group of dancers who perform David Needham’s eye-catching choreography with boundless energy and enthusiasm.   The costumes are bright and glamorous and as Dolly descended the staircase to make her entrance you couldn't help but be swept along in the grandeur and magic of it all. 

I had never seen 'Hello, Dolly!' live on stage before and therefore was surprised by the sheer number of recognisable songs and Jerry Herman’s score is the real star of the show.  ‘Put on Your Sunday Clothes’ and the Act One finale ‘Before the Parade Passes By’ are particularly rousing and I loved the touch of having a real brass band marching on stage in the parade.

The show seemed to fly by and when the finale came I didn’t want it to end.  Alas, ‘Hello, Dolly!’ has now come to the end of its run at the Curve so I can no longer encourage anyone to go and see it while they can. However, I will certainly be humming the tunes for weeks to come and I am sure the show will linger long in the memories of those lucky enough to be there.  'Hello, Dolly!' was such an uplifting, joyous show that it was impossible to leave without an enormous smile on my face.  It is certainly a show that has stood the test of time and even Dolly’s final speech to the audience regarding ‘spreading money around’ still has surprising pertinence today.  I may have needed to brave the snow again to get home but my heart was thoroughly warmed by this production, even more so after seeing Janie Dee in full costume and character talking to some awestruck children in the foyer afterwards.  Thank you to the enormously talented cast and crew for kicking off my theatre-going year with a bang! 

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