Monday, March 19, 2012

Maltz Jupiter Theatre: Hello, Dolly (reviews)

The Maltz Jupiter Theatre opened its production of Hello Dolly! on March 13, 2012.
Dolly Gallagher Levi is in town. Dolly makes a living through what she calls "meddling" - matchmaking and numerous sidelines, including dance instruction and mandolin lessons.

She is currently seeking a wife for grumpy Horace Vandergelder, a well-known half-a-millionaire, but it becomes clear that Dolly intends to marry Horace herself.
Marcia Milgrom Dodge directed a cast that featured Vicki Lewis, Gary Beach, Shayla Benoit, Chris Brick, Daniella Dalli, Matt Loehr, Timothy Grady, Katie Emerson, and Kara DeYoe Curtis.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
There’s a brand new musical comedy you’ve never seen before playing at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre with an infectious score, ingenious choreography, inventive staging and a star turn you’ll have trouble forgetting.

It’s something called Hello, Dolly! and if you think you’ve seen it before (and before and before), we’ll argue with you. Because director/choreographer Marcia Milgrom Dodge and leading lady Vicki Lewis invest the Jerry Herman-Michael Stewart warhorse with a freshness that nearly obliterates the iconic images created by Gower Champion and Carol Channing.
Polished like a spittoon in a tony gentleman’s club, Dodge’s Dolly focuses less on Champion’s circus spectacle and more on the heroine’s joyous return to life after an enforced hiatus, something we can all relate to after the last few years.

Everyone has seen Champion’s brilliant choreography so often because most productions just try to copy of it what they can, especially the title number. But Dodge and her assistant Josh Walden started with a blank sheet of paper and created steps and patterns totally their own. Notably, the Waiter’s Gallop, more tap dancing here than the traditional high stepping, justifiably earned the most sustained applause of the night for the first-rate dance ensemble.
Lewis may be best known for her supporting turn on the TV series NewsRadio, but half a lifetime of leading lady roles in musical revivals has armed her with a star wattage and skilled musical theater chops to command the stage. Her Dolly Gallagher Levi melds the fast-talking spiel of Harold Hill with the celebratory sexuality of Mae West.
She has a strong foil in Gary Beach (memorable on Broadway as Roger Debris in The Producers and Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast) delivering a blustery sputtering curmudgeon in Horace Vandergelder... Unlike 90 percent of his predecessors in the part such as Walter Matthau, Beach made Vandergelder’s willing capitulation to Dolly in the finale completely believable.
Maybe even better is the rubber-faced Matt Loehr as the lovesick clerk Cornelius Hackl.  Loehr, who looks a little like a very young Paul Lynde before he discovered sarcasm, exudes that innate exuberance of the contentedly daffy.
Our advice is to give yourself over to the irresistible force that is Vicki Lewis, Marcia Milgrom Dodge and the entire company of the Maltz’s freshly-minted Hello, Dolly!
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Right up front, let’s acknowledge that the Maltz Jupiter Theatre audience loves, loves, loves the theater’s new production of Hello, Dolly! Director-choreographer Marcia Milgrom Dodge has delivered her own take on Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart’s beloved, Tony Award-winning Broadway classic, and the Maltz crowd pretty much eats it up, start to finish.
Yes, I’ve seen Carol Channing reprise her iconic role from the Gower Champion-directed original several times, but that’s beside the point. Each actress who plays matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi has the chance to make the part her own, and at the Maltz, Vicki Lewis certainly does.

The theater has also done its usual fine job of casting, with Tony winner Gary Beach as cranky Horace Vandergelder, clarion-voiced Daniella Dalli as pretty widow Irene Molloy and Matt Loehr (who’s up for a best actor Carbonell Award for last season’s Crazy for You at the Maltz) as the smitten clerk Cornelius Hackl.
But (and you knew there was a “but” coming), with a few welcome exceptions, the acting in this Hello, Dolly! is extremely broad, almost becoming a caricature of musical comedy performance.
The wonderful Beach gets to show his real power, the split-second timing and comic command that won him the Tony... only at the end of the show once Horace has been won over by Dolly’s less-than-subtle campaign for his heart. Then, he’s adorable and masterful. But leading up to that moment, Beach has little to do but huff, puff and yell, and he doesn’t wear bluster well.
Lewis, with her knockout voice, offers a Dolly who seems to incorporate influences ranging from Mae West to Groucho Marx to Barbra Streisand (who played Dolly in the 1969 movie musical). She’s a younger, smaller, more obviously seductive Dolly, and her timing is killer...
Dodge’s direction is fluid, incorporating the set’s pair of moving staircases in varied ways. As choreographer, she gives the dancing waiters a lengthy razzle-dazzle tap number, and she showcases Loehr’s impressive control and flexibility. Her steps for Elegance have Cornelius, Barnaby, Irene and Minnie Fay looking like bobblehead dolls at times.
Many of the performances of Hello, Dolly! are already sold out. There is, and always will be, great affection for this tuneful adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker. For the way this Dolly is sung, Dodge and the cast do deserve the crowd’s thunderous applause.
Ron Levitt wrote for ENV Magazine:
It doesn’t matter if you know the storyline, have played a 78, 45 rpm, or a CD of the songs, own an original  cast album, or know the names of those who have made this American  fictional character an icon of the theatre and cinema.  No matter what your connection,   the Tony winning Hello Dolly – as presented at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre  — is  a gem, a  high spirited and colorful production which only enhances the already solid reputation of this venue for its excellence.
This Dolly  is Vicki Lewis, veteran  stage and TV personality…and can she sing!!  She is the epitome of talent as she belts out the numbers written by Jerry Herman  for the 1964 Broadway opener.  Lewis, packed  with  youthful exuberance  and  star quality, floats around the stage in showy costumes...
Directed by Marsha Milgrom Dodge who also helmed the choreography, this Hello Dolly  boasts a terrific cast, including Gary Beach, as the grumpy  Horace Vandergelder,  the  shop-owning, half-millionaire who is the target of Dolly’s  affection.
Supporting Lewis and Beach are a handful of talented performers,  led by  Daniella Dalli as Mrs. Malloy, the hat shop owner, whose operatic  voice... is a wonder.  Add to that the acting, dancing and singing of Matt Loehr...and  you have another winner.
Hello, Dolly! plays at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre through April 1, 2012.

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