BWW Review: Dolly Dazzles at The Dome
The recent revival of HELLO DOLLY may have just left the Great White Way and, sure, there's a fresh tour starring Broadway legend (and Fort Worth native) Betty Buckley just around the corner...but the production currently on stage in Fort Worth is worth putting on your Sunday clothes for with a dazzling production featuring a terrific cast of characters. But this Dolly's visit is fleeting - the show concludes it two-weekend-only run at Casa Manana on Sunday, September 16th.
Having charmed audiences since the 1960's, HELLO DOLLY is Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart's musicalized version of Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker. The musical theatre staple centers on Dolly Gallagher Levi (Jaquelyn Prio Donovan), a brassy widow known in New York for her warm wit and merry meddling. Dolly lends her matchmaking services to well-known half-millionaire Horace Vandergelder (David Coffee), a local shop owner with Scrooge-like qualities. When Vandergelder's young shop clerks Cornelius Hackl (Ryan Jesse) and Barnaby Tucker (Kenny Francoeur) skip work and happen upon a pair of young city women, Irene Molly and Minnie Fay (played by Emily Ferranti and Katie Emerson), the quartet winds up in the middle of one of Dolly's big schemes. But Dolly comes to the rescue, as she always does, puppeteering the players onto the correct path.
Jacquelyn Piro Davis, who has previously appeared in Casa's STEEL MAGNOLIAS and both the 2010 and 2014 productions of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, is as charismatic a Dolly as you can ask for. With the ensemble - and the audience - in the palm of her hand for two and a half hours, Ms. Piro Davis sings and dances up a storm without missing a beat in the garrulous and comedic text. And the less-than-two-week Casa rehearsal process must have felt like a stroll in the park after Ms. Davis' first and second turns in the title role as replacements for two other leading ladies...once with only four days of rehearsal.
Perfectly balancing the other end of the stage is David Coffee, who serves a masterclass in comedy each time he takes the spotlight. Coffee and Piro Davis are a match made in musical theatre heaven, constantly pushing each other towards a laugh without ever chewing up too much of the scenery.
The remaining cast is chalk-full of talent, but Emily Ferranti (Irene Malloy), Katie Emerson (Minnie Fay), Kenny Francoeur (Barnaby Tucker), Sarah Gay (Ernestina), and Lauren Magee (Ermengarde) deliver the most impressive and memorable performances.
Jennifer Werner's direction and choreography keep the show moving at a swift pace, even if a dance step or two is not always perfectly polished. Edward G. Robinson and his pitch-perfect orchestra help transform The Dome into an elegant Broadway music box. John Bartenstein's vibrant lighting, Tammy Spencer's costumes (appropriately full of feathers, patent leathers, beads and buckles and bows), Catherine Petty-Rogers wigs and makeup, Bob Lavallee's scenic design, and Brady Flock's stage properties deserve many (pun-intended) props for impeccably transporting the atmosphere back to simpler, pastel-colored days.
With a score full of musical gems like "Before the Parade Passes By," "Ribbons Down My Back," and of course, "Hello Dolly," this family-friendly musical is a delightful walk down Broadway memory lane.
For tickets and more information, visit www.CasaManana.org.