HELLO, DOLLY!

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Hello, Dolly! March 13, 14, 20 and 21 @ 8:00 pmMARCH March 15/22 at 2:00 PMDirected by Alan AguilarMusical Direction by Mary Sutherland

Choreography by Jim Kimker

Photography by Augusta McGowanProduced by special arrangement with Tams Whitmark. READ Richard T. Greens review athttp//www.talkinbroadway.com/regional/stl/

Steve Callahans review from KDHX belowHELLO, DOLLY!
Reviewed by Steve Callahan
The Over Due Theatre Company is a bright and brave new little company producing in the Olivette Community Center.  They have just added a very solid production of Hello, Dolly! to their season of family-friendly fare.   Dolly is one of our best-loved musicals.  It's the story of the inimitable Dolly Levi, a matchmaker and woman of all trades, in her search for the right wife for a rich Yonkers businessman.  The right wife will ultimately be, of course, Dolly herself.

It's an old story, taken from Thornton Wilder's farce, The Matchmaker, which Wilder himself adapted from his earlier script, The Merchant of Yonkers, which he had adapted from a nineteenth-century Viennese play which was itself adapted from an earlier English play.  So it's a well-travelled old work-horse of a plot.  It all happens in one most eventful day in New York.  Horace Vandergelder comes to town to seek a bride.  It's Dolly's job to guide this "half a millionaire" past the temptations of a beautiful millineress and a not-so-beautiful (but very rich) heiress into the safe harbor of Dolly's own arms.  The story is spiced with secondary love interests as Vandergelder's two shop assistants, Cornelius and Barnaby, take French leave from their shop-keeping duties and make their first visit to the big city.

Everybody loves Dolly.  You've seen this delicious, irrepressible matchmaker embodied by Carol Channing or Pearl Bailey or any of a number of other stars.   In this production the beautiful Kay Love will make you love her too.  Unlike Miss Channing or Miss Bailey, for whom the score had to be adjusted down a few notes (or perhaps octaves in the case of Channing) Ms. Love has the clear, lovely soprano voice needed to sing the score as written.  And does she ever know how to wear those grand dresses!  Mike Van Allen gives us an excellent, strong Vandergelder.  He has the timing and the wonderfully expressive rubber face so suitable to farce, and when in the second act he gets a chance at singing solo we realize what a fine voice he has.  

Supporting roles are strong as well:  Josh Cook and Gustavo Perez, as Cornelius and Barnaby, are innocence incarnate-utter rubes in the big city.  Perez is a particularly talented dancer.  Christine Johnson makes a charming, glowing millineress.  A couple of her songs provide a lovely adagio change from the surrounding faster tempi.  She makes them most engaging.  And Chrissy Brooks triumphs again as Minnie Fay, the millinery assistant.   Her small frame is brimming with brave theatricality and it's hard to look elsewhere when she's on stage.  

The chorus of seventeen sing and dance their hearts out.  I was especially impressed with the strong male chorus in "It Takes a Woman".  

The set, by Tom Kopp, presents series of panels with gracefully promenading period silhouettes.  These smoothly move and turn to become Vandergelder's shop, the milliner's shop, the restaurant.  It's quite an accomplishment on this rather low and shallow stage.  Costumes by Debbie Bixler are excellent.  A jacket or two was perhaps too modern, but overall it was fine work.

Music is under the direction of Mary Sutherland, who never allows her orchestra to dominate the un-miked voices.  The big "Hello, Dolly" production number seemed rather too slow, and thus lost much of its life, but otherwise the music flowed beautifully.

Again, lighting is the weakest element.  It's all from the front and that simply flattens everything.   Hello Dolly runs through March 22 at the Olivette Community Center.   For ticket information call 636-328-6546.