There will always be something special about seeing a classic Broadway show; Hello Dolly at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres is no exception. The musical is celebrating its 50th Anniversary and has become one of the most enduring musical theatre favorites. With music and lyrics by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart, Hello Dolly is based on Thornton Wilder’s 1938 farce The Merchant of Yonkers, which is better known today as The Matchmaker.
Its the 1890’s in New York City and widow Dolly Levi makes a living through what she calls “meddling” – matchmaking and numerous side jobs, including dance and mandolin lessons. But that’s not all Ms. Levi has on her plate; she has her sights set on marrying Horace Vandergelder (Keith Rice) the well-known-half-a-millionaire from Yonkers. Only problem is she has him set up with Irene Molloy (Cat Brindisi). Let the meddling begin.
Hello Dolly is a star driven show, which makes the casting of Michelle Barber as Dolly Levi perfection. Not only is she a commanding presence on stage, but the role of Dolly fits her like a glove. She glides through scene after scene and song after song but mesmerizes us to helps us forget we are watching a musical on stage. From her interactions with the audience to her ad lib performance with the dancing waiters during “Hello Dolly” Michelle Barber is Dolly Levi.
As Irene Molloy, Cat Brindisi makes her adult debut at Chanhassen and treats us to her beautiful voice on “Ribbons Down My Back”. Her voice is elegant and she evokes raw emotion into the song. Listening to her sing is a treat. Its too bad she didn’t have more opportunities to showcase her voice. Along with Jessica Fredrickson as Minnie Fay, these two are perfectly cast along side Tyler Michaels as Cornelius Hackl and Adam Moen as Barnaby Tucker. Tyler Michaels and Adam Moen are the perfect pair to pull of the slapstick comedy needed for the roles for Cornelius and Barnaby. The adventures these to characters get themselves into in one night could be spun off into their own show.
The extraordinary choreography of Tamara Kangas Erickson is exquisitely on display throughout the show. Especially in the the Harmonia Gardens scene. Rich Hamson’s costume designs are beyond gorgeous. Nayna Ramey designed a simple and elegant set that works beautifully with the choreography and costume design to add an additional layer to the entire production.
Hello Dolly is playing at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres through February 21, 2015. For more information on the show, visit Chanhassen’s website.