THEATER REVIEW: “Hello, Dolly!” @ Mac-Haydn Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Macey Levin
Hello, Dolly!, an American classic, is receiving a terrific revival on Broadway with Bette Midler. It is also receiving a terrific revival at Chatham’s Mac-Haydn Theatre with a marvelous Dolly and a spirited and talented cast.
Based on Thornton Wilder’s “The Matchmaker,” the original production, directed by Gower Champion, opened in 1964 and ran for 2844 performances, closing in 1970. Dolly Gallagher Levi has become Carol Channing’s signature role; at one time or another she was followed by Ethel Merman, Ginger Rogers, Martha Raye, Betty Grable and Pearl Bailey among others. A movie starring Barbra Streisand and directed by Gene Kelly in 1969 didn’t match the charm or artistry of the original.
The story, taking place in the late 19th century, centers around widowed matchmaker Dolly’s pursuit of Horace Vandergelder, Yonkers’ “half-a-millionaire.” As she conspires to get him to propose, three younger couples find their own romance and, of course, everything ends happily.
With a book by Michael Stewart and Jerry Herman’s music and lyrics, Mac-Haydn’s production is a gem. At the opening performance the first few minutes felt somewhat tentative, but after Monica M. Wemitt gives us a charmingly conniving Dolly with “I Put My Hand In,” the show flies with dazzling choreography by Sebastiani Romagnalo and sparkling staging by director John Saunders.