Lavish and lively, Hello Dolly is a dream of a musical with its larger-than life characters and well-known songs.
Hard-working Peak Performance make it a very pretty production at Chesterfield’s Pomegranate Theatre.
Multiple set changes include an elegant hat shop which fills the full width of the stage and an expensive restaurant where the focal point is a staircase on which the leading lady makes a grand entrance.
Jo Hooper’s choreography is delightful, especially in the restaurant where waiters weave amongst each other holding plates of sumptuous fare aloft in a scene bordering on balletic.
The lead character of meddling matchmaker Dolly Levi is played by Joan Hopkinson, who makes the role very much her own. Bold, brassy Dolly she is not, Joan plays her more of a gentle, wheedling fixer who wins over the audience’s heart as the show progresses. Vocally, she triumphs in the slower numbers such as Before the Parade Passes By and Hello Dolly.
Rob Hall gives a terrific performance as the wealthy, tough taskmaster Horace Vandergelder who commands the stage with his imposing presence and his rich voice ringing out as he leads the men in singing It Takes A Woman.
Comedy is in the capable hands of David Hopkinson and Alex Hayward-Browne who play Vandergelder’s employees Cornelius and Barnaby. They use their boss’s absence to escape to New York where they learn to dance in the hope of picking up girls, but end up in some ridiculous situations trying to dodge their master.
Debi Alvey is delightful as the golden-voiced hat shop proprietor Mrs Molloy as is Jo Hutchesson as her assistant Minnie.
The sound could have been better in the first half of the opening performance last night (Thursday), producing grumbles from fellow viewers near the back of the auditorium that they couldn’t hear what was being sung or, at times, being said.
Hopefully this will be first-night teething problems and the show will flow smoothly tonight (Friday) and tomorrow.
Hello Dolly is directed by Mike Spriggs with musical direction by Nick Stacey.