Ashton-Under-Lyne Operatic Society
Director: Robert Margolis
Musical Director: Jeremy Slieth
Choreography: Carolynne Crowder and Kerry Buckley
It is over fifty years since the first Broadway opening of Hello, Dolly! and the musical is as entertaining today as it was then. The recent revival on the “Great White Way” with Bette Midler in the title role, wowed its audiences. Pver the years, many a well-known celebrity has walked down the famous Harmonia Gardens staircase, from Carol Channing to Danny La Rue.
The 19th Century New York was well represented by Scenic Projects’ excellent set which was complemented with striking costumes by The Boyz. The lighting added to the dramatic atmosphere, and sound gave that extra edge to the dialogue and music.
The creative team used every inch of the performance space available. All the various groupings created a visual impact and created, what was in effect, a pop-up picture of colour with a sea of delightful characters. The choreography which developed naturally from the unfolding narrative was exhilarating. The M.D. moved the music along at a pace which enabled the company to give a credible rendition of Jerry Herman’s flawless score. As the effective captain of the ship, the director kept a firm hand on the tiller resulting in a well-crafted production.
There was no ensemble as such because everyone one stage created an individual character in whatever scene they were in.
The cameo roles of Ernestine (Rosemarie Wood), Ermengarde (Jessica Morris), and Ambrose Kemper (Ben Iveson) were interpreted with conviction. The comic antics of the Waiters’ Gallop were neatly timed led by Scott Lees, as Rudolph, at the helm.
The Chief Clerk of Vandergelder’s Emporium, the 34 year old Cornelius Hackl and assistant, Barnaby Tucker, were cheerfully characterised by Ben Drane and Steven Cheeseman. They were a vaudevillian double act, one trying to be sophisticated, the other falling at every hurdle. Their love interest and exploits with Irene Molloy and Minnie Fay were consistently entertaining. Kelly Harrington was both sassy and feminine. as the widow. Irene Molloy. and Elizabeth Parkin was equal to Barnaby’s naivety. They were fun to watch as they zipped the action along.
The curmudgeonly wealthy grain merchant. Horace Vandergelder. wants to find the perfect woman and calls on the Dolly Levi, the Matchmaker, for assistance. Peter Wakefield brought a Yonkers Victor Meldrew off the page. Peter maintained the sour-puss characterisation right up to Horace’s submission to Dolly’s advances. The middle-aged marriage broker, the manipulative, Dolly Levi, who is money, money driven, was lovingly portrayed by Vicky Clarkson. Vicky captured the character with signature body language and expressive hand gestures, and she it was who was firmly in the driving seat.
The company delivered the charm of this beloved, everlasting musical, a musical which continues to capture its audiences wherever it is played.