By Lynn Geyer
Thornton Wilder told his version of the story of Dolly Levi, the over zealous, somewhat conniving woman known as “The Matchmaker” in 1938; after it failed on Broadway, Wilder rewrote it in 1953, reintroduced it to the theatre audience where the play won acclaim.
Michael Stewart and Jerry Herman turned it into a musical romp of three and a half love-smitten couples. Tacoma Musical Playhouse is the latest to mount this shining chestnut, “Hello, Dolly!”
This is a fun show with some really good music sung by a talented cast backed by an excellent 16-piece orchestra directed by Jeffrey Stvrtecky.
Jon Douglas Rake, the director and choreographer for “Dolly,” fills the stage at the converted movie theatre with a huge ensemble cast. The quality of the production fills the audience to almost sold-out performances in the 370-plus house.
The production is a treat for the eye. Resident Costume Designer Joan Schlegel has dressed the 27-member cast in resplendent clothing of the turn of the 20th Century era.
Dolly Gallagher Levi is a widow who dabbles in anything to turn a buck during an era when women just didn’t work – even widows. She is a fast-talking con-woman, in the nicest sense of the word, inasmuch as she can and does convince people to follow her lead in just about every situation – from law to love. When she finally tires of finding perfect matches for everyone else, Dolly decides it is time for her to snag a husband for herself (hence the aforementioned half love-smitten couple).
Dolly finds Ambrose for Ermengarde, Irene Malloy for Cornelius, Minnie Fay for Barnaby, and for Horace Vandergelder, Ermengarde’s uncle and Cornelius and Barnaby’s employer, she finds herself!
Fortunately, this mishmash is all sorted out through song and dance until the final curtain finds each couple in love and in each other’s arms for the happy ending to this happy show.
Dolly is flamboyantly played by Diane Bozzo. Bozzo has a good voice, engages in some clever patter with her victims – uh – clients, that is, and seems to get better as the show goes on.
Dan Engelhard is a lovable grouch as Horace, the unsuspecting dupe who happily ends up with Dolly when she convinces him that he really always wanted her.
Lexi Scamehorn is a charming constant weeper as Ermengarde and Mauro Bozzo is her equally charming beau, Ambrose.
Dannielle Krehbiel plays Minnie Fay as a bouncy post-pubescent doll torn between little girl and young woman. Brad Walker plays Barnaby Tucker as a shy young boy bursting into manhood in search of his first kiss.
Matt Posner as Cornelius Hackl has the best male voice which is attested to when he sings the haunting ballad, “It Only Takes a Moment.”
Leischen Moore is a delight as Irene Malloy, the haberdasher who hates hats and wants to find a man to take her away from the toppers. Moore’s voice is clean and clear.
With a cast as large as this, space limitations prevent naming them all, however, a special mention must go to Lance Zielinski, who plays the Maître d’ at the Harmonia Gardens. When he welcomes Dolly with the title song, one can’t help but be thrilled by his voice.
“Hello, Dolly” continues at Tacoma Musical Playhouse at 7116 Sixth Avenue just east of Jackson through May 29, Friday and Saturday evening at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
For reservations or more information, call the box office at (253) 565-6867 or go online to www.tmp.org.
You have just two weeks more to see “Hello, Dolly.” Don’t miss the opportunity to be a part of this highly entertaining theatrical moment.