Review Roundup: What Did The Critics Think of HELLO, DOLLY! in San Francisco?
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 in San Francisco!
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).
San Francisco Reviews:
Linda Hodges, BroadwayWorld: Lavish sets and costumes by Santo Loquasto bring the gilded 1890's to life. Warren Carlyle's choreography channels the original Gower Champion dance steps, lending an old-fashioned air to the high-stepping struts and intricate numbers, especially in "The Waiter's Gallop," a fun, fast-paced number involving serving trays and champagne bottles. It beautifully leads into Dolly's grand re-entrance down the now mythic staircase of the Harmonia Gardens restaurant in her signature red ballgown, hair festooned with a majestic fan of matching red feathers. It's a glorious, fan-pleasing moment, judging by the extended applause and hurrahs from the audience.
Leslie Katz, SF Examiner: Classy Broadway staple and TV star Betty Buckley fills the shoes of Dolly Gallagher Levi with joy in the national tour of "Hello, Dolly!" onstage the Golden Gate Theatre. Some 55 years after the beloved late Carol Channing created her career-long role on Broadway, and following Bette Midler's Tony-winning portrayal in the 2017 revival, Buckley plays the famed matchmaker (based on the 19th century-set play by Thornton Wilder) with a twinkle in her eye, steady vocals and knowing insight.
Lily Janiak, SF Chronicle: Buckley, a Tony winner for "Cats," has the depth and thoughtfulness to imbue even an anodyne "hello" with layers of feeling, to bring a lost marriage's joy and sadness to each of the countless refrains of that infernal title song. If her singing often strains, her ease and intimacy with a stadium-sized audience seems effortless. As she parades back and forth, she makes you think that you've known her your whole life and that with those repeated hellos, you're welcoming and embracing a long lost friend.
Sam Hurwit, Mercury News: Nic Rouleau is bursting with fun-loving zeal as Cornelius, the feed store clerk on a quest for adventure and smooches, perfectly paired with the impressively dancing Jess LeProtto as shy assistant Barnaby. (Barnaby's side-to-side rocking as bashful flirtation is particularly adorable.) Speaking of perfect pairings, there's little question who those gents will end up with. Analisa Leaming is forcefully vivacious as Irene Molloy, the young widow and hat-shop owner who's introduced as a marital prospect for Vandergelder, and Kristen Hahn is hilariously mousy as her prim and easily flustered employee Minnie.
Los Angeles Reviews:
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.