Review Roundup: What Did The Critics Think of HELLO, DOLLY! at the Pantages?
Here she comes, world! The first national tour of the Tony Award-winning Best Musical Revival of Hello, Dolly!, starring Tony Award winner Betty Buckley, launched earlier this year from the Stanley Theatre in Utica, New York. The show just opened at LA's Hollywood Pantages Theatre.
Ms. Buckley is joined by Lewis J. Stadlen (Horace Vandergelder), Nic Rouleau(Cornelius Hackl), Analisa Leaming (Irene Molloy), Jess LeProtto (Barnaby Tucker), Kristen Hahn (Minnie Fay), Garett Hawe (Ambrose Kemper), Morgan Kirner(Ermengarde), and Jessica Sheridan (Ernestina).
Let's see what the critics are saying...
Don Grigware, BroadwayWorld: The cast is delightful, all triple threat performers. Buckley, assuredly one of our greatest Broadway divas, is perfect for this role. She makes Dolly Gallagher Levi totally her own creation. Of course, we all know she can still sing but most importantly here she must milk the already excessive humor and make it stand up. That she does! Stadlen is one of the best Horace Vandergelders I've seen, a lovable penny-pinching curmudgeon very much like the original David Burns. Nic Rouleau makes a straight-forward, honest Cornelius Hackl and Jess LeProtto is dynamically agile and riveting as Barnaby Tucker. Kristen Hahn is adorable as Minnie Fay, with sharp attention to Fay's naivete. Leaming lends her beautiful soprano to Irene Molloy. Praise as well to Garett Hawe as Ambrose Kemper, Morgan Kirner as the whimpering Ermengarde, to Jessica Sheridan who is delicious fun as Ernestina Money and to the rest of the dynamite chorus.
Margaret Gray, The Los Angeles Times: The action bounces along, neatly interspersed with sprightly songs (lushly orchestrated by Larry Hochman) and peppy, unabashedly silly dances (choreographed by Warren Carlyle in homage to Gower Champion, who directed and choreographed the original Broadway production. Santo Loquasto's colorful period costumes come together with his scenic backdrops to create living paintings.
Deborah Wilker, The Hollywood Reporter: But Buckley, who has been on something of a run in recent years, with turns in M. Night Shyamalan's Split and AMC's Preacher, brings more to the evening than comic timing and big songs. She seems to shed real tears in Dolly's monologues to her late husband Ephraim, during which she begs the universe for signs that it's OK to move on with her life. It's in these quiet moments - particularly at the onset of the Act 1 closer, "Before the Parade Passes By" - that she makes the role her own.
Ellen Dostal, Musicals in LA: Betty Buckley and Lewis J. Stadlen are a terrific pair. His chauvinism belongs to a different time and her unwavering ability to steamroll past any objection is a practice women are still having to exercise today. That their verbal volley works is a credit to director Jerry Zaks, who doesn't try to sidestep Horace's dated mindset but instead highlights it and then surrounds him with a theatrical reality big enough to make him grow in the process.
John Tudhope, Daily Bruin: There were no surprises here; the play was traditional and looked good, but the comedy and plotline were woefully outdated and failed to provide me with a captivating story. "Hello, Dolly!" was a predictable 2 1/2 hours in a beautiful Hollywood theater I'm sure my grandparents would fawn over.
Imaan Jalali, LA Excites: As the lead, Betty Buckley has taken the baton from Bette Midler and re-affirmed her legendary status as one who has a seemingly uncanny ability to completely transform herself into the character she is portraying. More than just an excellent singer whose vibrato-gilded voice conveys a delightful warmth, she is an elite actor who is committed to capturing a believability that resonates genuinely and without any contrivances. Her rendition of Dolly Levi is invigorating, fun, and draws in the audience who can't help but be entranced by the character portrait that she has lovingly cultivated on stage.
Erin Conley, On Stage and Screen: It is a treat to see Buckley in this role. While the ensemble does nearly all of the heavy lifting in terms of dancing, she has comedic timing and stage presence in spades, as well as a voice that sounds as fresh as ever. Rouleau is also a standout as Cornelius, with unending energy and a bright-eyed optimism that makes you immediately root for him. LeProtto's dancing is also very impressive, as is the ensemble, who seems to be working overtime given the high volume of large production numbers in the show.
Steven Stanley, StageSceneLA: From the moment Buckley proclaims her matchmaking intentions in "I Put My Hand In" to her declaration of liberation in "Before The Parade Passes By" to the goodbye-and-good-riddance gem "So Long Dearie," Dolly Levi is in the hands of a master of comic timing, smoky (and smokin') vocals, and effortless scene-stealing, with some nifty toe-tapping thrown in for good measure.