— Production photo
Whoever said “Don’t put all your eggs into one basket” obviously never saw a Royal City Musical Theatre production.
New West’s RCMT does only one show a year at the cavernous Massey Theatre, and their formula is always the same: a large-scale Broadway musical expensively produced by a professional team, this year directed by Valerie Easton, the best choreographer in town; a tight 15-piece orchestra under the direction of James Bryson; and a large cast—44 this time—of talented pre-professionals plus a few Equity principals. It’s a formula that almost always results in a spectacular product. Hello, Dolly! is no exception.
Dolly! is a dumb, good-natured show about American innocence, written in the pre-liberation early 1960s and set in the 1890s. Every woman wants a man to marry and every man wants a woman to kiss or to clean his house. Widow Dolly Levi has her heart set on miserly widower Horace Vandergelder, not because she loves him but because he can offer her financial security. She’s also a matchmaker who manages to pair off all sorts of other couples along the way. All the characters except Dolly are cartoons but who cares. It’s good clean fun and Jerry Herman’s songs are terrific.
Colleen Winton absolutely shines as Dolly. She lacks the comic edge of Carol Channing, who premiered the role, but has a wonderful singing voice and looks great in Chris Sinosich’s dazzling period dresses. Her title number gets a standing ovation, but she really shows off her chops with “Before the Parade Passes By.” David Adams is her ideal foil as Horace, almost managing to make the old grump lovable.
Dustin Freeland and Sayer Roberts do a nice job as young hicks Cornelius and Barnaby out for a night in the big city. As their dates Irene and Minnie, Caitlin Clugston sings beautifully and Kayla Dunbar is a comic treat. Funny work, too, from Stephanie Liatopoulos as Horace’s whiny daughter and Chelsey Yamasaki as his date from hell.
Easton has a large group of very good young dancers to work with and the dance numbers are a definite highlight. The “Waiter’s Gallop,” with trays of food and drinks and skewers of meat, is phenomenal.
Technically, the show is a pleasure, from set designer Omanie Elias’ beautifully painted, sepia-toned, turn-of-the-century curtain to Tim Lang’s crystal clear sound design, nicely balancing the big orchestra and large chorus of voices.
You’re looking swell, Dolly, and sounding pretty fine, too