When I think of Hello, Dolly! I think of the movie version that starred Barbara Stresisand. It made me appreciate the lead actress even more in the wonderful, charming and quick witted, musical production of Hello Dolly! directed by the renowned Eric Schaeffer at Ford’s Theater.
The lead actress to play Dolly Gallagher Levi is New York based Nancy Opel. She did a marvelous job! She reminded me of Lucille Ball who always seems to get into trouble, but finds her way out of it. She was simply amazing in the role. I got to meet her after the show because I sat next to one of her voice students, 10th grader Blake Brooking. Blake traveled from Culpepper with his retired police officer mom Julie Brooking. They took me back stage to meet the actress and then we took pictures on the stage with her. What a thrill! We also got a tour by the production stage manager to Abraham Lincoln‘s presidential box. The drawing of George Washington, that hangs below the president box, is the original from when Lincoln was killed. At the time there was no presidential seal and George Washington represented the presidency. There is a dent in the frame from where John Wilkes Booth’s spurs caught on it when jumping to the stage.
The story takes places in 1890 in Yonkers and New York City after the Civil War. Women are restless for more roles in society after all their efforts during the civil War. Dolly is a rebel of sorts where she is no longer being confined to traditional roles as a wife and mother. Dolly apparently is a renaissance lady because she can do it all! Dolly can teach people how to dance, she matchmakes, she gives business advice, and she can get whatever she wants! One of the lead characters Irene Molly, played by the velvet throated singer Tracy Lynn Olivera, also owns her own hat business. Another lead character Ermengard, played hilariously by my favorite actress Carolyn Cole, wishes to arrange her own marriage. The only thing stopping these ladies in advancing because of society’s dictates is the cooperation of a man. Horace Vandergelder is the curmudgeonly man played by the popular actor Edward Gero.
I especially enjoyed the interaction of Dolly with Horace Vandergelder. Dolly one ups him the whole time while she tries to help him find a wife.
The set is cleverly designed by Adam Koch to look like a train station that transitions to a feed store to a millenary shop to NY City to an expensive restaurant. I loved the gorgeous period costumes designed by Wade Laboissonniere.
What really set this stage apart is the choreography by Karma Camp. The real action comes from the ensemble. Particularly enjoyable is the restaurant scene with the ensemble scrambling around like crazy with trays on their hands. I’m not sure how they can keep up with the dancing, I’m guessing cross-fit? One guy did two flips in the air too.
If you are looking for an enjoyable production with lavish costumes, innovative set, beautiful music and dancing, then this is the play for you. Great job Ford’s Theater!
WHEN: until May 18, 2013
511 10th St NW Washington, DC 20004
TICKETS: Please click here to purchase tickets, or at 202-347-4833.