Review Roundup: HELLO, DOLLY! on Tour, What Did Critics Think?
"It only takes a moment" for America to fall in love with "Hello, Dolly!" as the national tour is entertaining audiences across the U.S. with this classic tale. Check out what the critics are saying in the reviews from various tour stops below!
Hello, Dolly! Tour Cast
Tony Award-winner, Betty Buckley leads the touring company as Dolly Gallagher Levi, opposite Lewis J. Stadlen as Horace Vandergelder. "The Book of Mormon" alum Nic Rouleau plays Cornelius Hackl alongside Analisa Leaming as Irene Malloy, Sean Burns as Barnaby Tucker, and Kristen Hahn as Minnie Fay.
Los Angeles Reviews
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.
Tony Frankel, Stage and Cinema: Famed designer Santo Loquasto creates a jewel-box/picture-book nostalgic tour-de-force radiant with resplendent Victoriana: Its filigreed proscenium frames period postcards illustrating the Gilded Age's gorgeous ornamentations; while the set size may not be a perfect fit for this huge theater, it's design is a perfect fit for the ornate interior. Its rich reliance on extravagantly elegant props and costumes evokes a world long gone, including an entire train for the Hudson River Railway. Loquasto's abundant, tintype-accurate outfits (this chorus changes clothes a lot) are colored like a box of crayons (it's been since I-don't-know-when that a chorus entrance got applause for the costumes) that perfectly complement his sweetly suggestive scenery. A prettier touring show has seldom graced the boards.
Michael Cooper, LA Weekly: Buckley is well supported by a talented ensemble: Lewis J. Stadlen plays the cranky but lovable Horace effortlessly. The female duo of Irene Molloy (Analisa Leaming) and Minnie Fay (Kristen Hahn), as well as the male duo of Cornelius (Nic Rouleau) and Barnaby (Jess LeProtto), have amazing chemistry and great comedic timing. Rouleau has an especially powerful voice, as does Leaming, who at many points sounds as angelic as a Disney princess. And LeProtto deserves major props for his incredible dancing.
Erin Conley, On Stage and Screen: While many musicals only have one or two showstoppers, Hello Dolly! easily has four or five. From the act one "Put on Your Sunday Clothes," when the ensemble slowly struts out in costumes each more colorful than the last, to the jaunty restaurant number "The Waiters' Gallop" where the ensemble performs intricate choreography involving serving trays and champagne bottles, to the title number, with Buckley donned head to toe in red sparkles, the applause on opening night was seemingly nonstop.
Imaan Jalali, LA Excites: Jerry Herman's music and lyrics are as irresistibly endearing as they were when they first entered public consciousness. The songs are a throwback to the golden-age-musical epoch that sought to first and foremost entertain and then ask piercing questions later. There is both a bubbliness and yet, paradoxically, a maturity to Herman's lasting work that effortlessly breathes unrelenting energy into the performers of this "Hello, Dolly!" national tour.
Michael Quintos, Los Angeles: Santo Loquasto's beautiful scenic and costume designs pop with technicolor flair, a gorgeous juxtaposition of movie musical richness and late 19th Century woodcut sketch illustrations. The entire show and cast is bathed in Natasha Katz's painterly lighting design. Warren Carlyle's dance staging and choreography feels fresh but also a throwback homage to its classic Gower Champion roots. Jerry Herman's score sounds absolutely perfect under the baton of conductor Robert Billing, under the musical direction of Andy Einhorn---again, reminiscent of the lush orchestral sounds of the original.
San Francisco Reviews
Lily Janiak, Datebook: 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 Hurwitt, The Mercury News: This "Dolly" is looking swell. Director Jerry Zaks' production is fabulous, with a sharp comedic cast and dynamic choreography by Warren Carlyle. At 72, Buckley mostly walks through the dance numbers, but some of the biggest applause of the night follows an acrobatic dance of leaping waiters, and rightly so.
David John Chávez, Bay Area Plays: The national tour of "Hello Dolly!," with its sure-footed choreography, snappy and simplistic dialogue and so many wonderful technical and design aspects is plenty of fun. It does a solid, bang-up job of giving out a ton of eye candy, smoothly caressing the nostalgia for its audience.
Harry Duke, North Bay Stage and Screen: MVP of this production goes to Stadlen, a reliable Broadway performer for the past 50 years who often toils in the anonymity common to great character actors. His eyebrows are as expressive as anything else on stage.
Linda Hodges, BroadwayWorld: Indeed, the underlying theme is about the power of money in the lives of the rich (Horace Vandergelder) and the poor (Dolly, Cornelius and Barnaby). In the final scene, Dolly turns to the audience and says, "It's all in how you use it. Money ... pardon the expression ... is like manure. It's not worth a thing unless it's spread around encouraging young things to grow!" In our own era of 1%ers, it's a powerful message and it comes all wrapped up in comedic fun and enough show tunes to make the entire audience sing with joy!
John Olson, Chicago Theater Beat: Stadlen's deadpan, gravelly voice has served him well through many roles since his Broadway debut as Groucho Marx in the 1970 musical Minnie's Boys; and the crotchety skinflint Horace is a perfect match to his vocal and comedic talents.
Miriam Di Nunzio, Chicago Sun Times: The show is peppered with a bevy of dynamic songs, including "Put On Your Sunday Clothes" and "Before the Parade Passes By," driven by an ensemble cast that knows no bounds when it comes to song and dance. Warren Carlyle's choreography (based on the original by Gower Champion) is a triumph of genres. Resplendent in the lavish costumes of Tony winner Santo Loquasto, the singer-dancers look every bit as gorgeous as the demanding footwork they flawlessly execute. Loquasto's scenic design (fully replicated from the Broadway version), which includes a steam-whistled train, is a wonder, not to mention an almost impossible extravagance for touring productions nowadays.
Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune The book writer Michael Stewart took his cue from Wilder and had his fun with ordinary, self-centered, striving, middle-class Americans - the merchant class, you might say. But as he did so, he also made them all look smart, honest, fun and loving. For decades, this show thus has offered both empowerment and escapism. They've got their Sunday clothes on; you can come as you still are.
Rachel Weinberg, BroadwayWorld: In the title role, Betty Buckley captures Dolly's larger-than-life, meddlesome, and lovable presence in spades. Buckley maximizes the comedic beats of the role, but her Dolly is also grounded in true emotional integrity. She is a blast to watch, but she also revels in the quieter, more somber moments that endear us to the character.
Hedy Weiss, WTTW: I confess I had some worries at the very start of the show as the overture was played at a surprisingly sluggish pace. But once the curtain opened and the actors arrived the show began to pop, with Buckley and the rest of the cast exuding all the energy of a great parade passing by and leaving a sense of exhilaration in its wake.
John Wenzel, The Know: As I hoped it would be, "Sunday Clothes" is an overwhelming wall of sound and color thanks in large to Rouleau's gorgeous, clear vibrato. The ensemble's pageantry here alone is nearly worth the admission price.
Chris Arneson, BroadwayWorld: The plot is nostalgic at best. A bit contrived and longwinded, what it does best is help intertwine a compendium of characters together in zany situations where great music and dancing can easily slip its way in.
In Good Taste Denver Staff, IGTD: The sets are creative, the costumes are gorgeous, the comedy is trite, and the dancing is graceful. One stand-out scene is in a posh restaurant where the waiters leap, spin, arch and dance their way through a busy evening's service. I couldn't help but think of the scene in Beauty and Beast where the dinner itself puts on a lavish show.
Andrea Simakis, Cleveland.com: Yet director Jerry Zaks, who helmed the Midler production, and his cast and crew bring the kiss of youthful first love to "Dolly's" rouged cheek. There is nothing tired or rote in a single routine. Every visual gag lands; each exactingly choreographed movement is crisp and specific.
Roy Berko, BroadwayWorld: From her first entrance, which was met with thunderous applause, Buckley "had" the audience. She delighted, playing much of the show toward the viewers, and waving and teasing people close to the stage apron. Her voice was strong, her movements appropriate for the choreography she was given.
Bob Abelman, The News Herald: Magnificently orchestrated company numbers orbit around Buckley rather than include her. And while she gets at the heart of the character when asking her late husband to bless her renouncement of widowhood and rejoin the human race in "Before the Parade Passes By," her comedic moments - elongated in anticipation of the raucous reaction earned by past performers - fall rather flat.
Glenn Anderson, Star102: As far as the rest of the musical numbers, "Elegance", "It Only Takes a Moment", "I Put My Hand In" and more, I was transported to a time when the Broadway musical was all about glitz and glamor, shiny costumes, and no need for special effects. I was transported to a time when "Mary Poppins" meets "Singing In The Rain" and everything was about putting a smile on your face and a tune in your heart.
Kerry Clawson, Ohio.com: In the current tour, Nic Rouleau brings the most heart-stopping, golden vocals in his adorably innocent role as Cornelius Hackl, the 33-year-old store clerk who's never tasted romance. He and Jess LeProtto as clerk Barnaby Tucker make a wonderful comedic duo, with Tucker wowing the audience with his acrobatic dance.
Aaron Wallace, BroadwayWorld: Even more to the point, Betty Buckley is in full command of the stage at every moment, rendering the debate somewhat moot. She's likeable. She's funny. She looks the audience in the eye and pulls us in without ever quite breaking the fourth wall. And she hits each and every note with impressive range.
Matthew J. Palm, Orlando Sentinel: A good deal of the joy in this revival springs from the way the production unabashedly channels the spirit of yesteryear on Broadway - not ironically or sneeringly but with an ebullient affection for the memorable characters and Jerry Herman's toe-tapping tunes.
Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press: Director Jerry Zaks' revival keeps realism at bay, the vivid characterizations all exaggerated for comic effect, but never too cartoonish. It's all done in winking fun (in fact, the audience gets winked at a lot), inviting you with a smile into its sweet, silly spirit.
Mary Aalgaard, Play off the Page: The ensemble is dynamic and high stepping! Whew! I can only imagine the amount of calories they burn performing this show. From tiny toe tapping steps to great leaps, the dancers awed and entertained us. You have to be present to appreciate their skill. Director Jerry Zaks and Choreographer Warren Carlyle deserve all their accolades, including the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Costume Design (Santo Loquasto) in 2017.
Brett Burger, BroadwayWorld: I truly adored Kristen Hahn's performance as Irene Molloy's assistant, Minnie Fay. She changed it to something I'd never seen before, and it was through a deadpan dry comedic performance that was different and refreshing.
Basil Considine, Twin Cities Arts Reader: Consider this case: one of the funniest scenes in Hello, Dolly! revolves around Betty Buckley eating a turkey drumstick. "What?" you say - "How can the be funny?" And yet her performance had the audience in stitches for an extended scene that, in the hands of any number of other actors, would seem simply absurd. In her hands (and slurps), the actions are transformed into ridiculous comedy.
Rohan Preston, Star Tribune: Stadlen, a Broadway veteran with solid credits ("The Producers," "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "Candide"), totally inhabits the grumpy Vandergelder who falls for Dolly, even if he's the last to realize it. Stadlen takes the edge off his character's sexism, helping us to wince less on "It Takes a Woman."
About Hello, Dolly!
Hello, Dolly! received four Tony Awards in 2017, including "Best Revival of a Musical." The musical features a book by Michael Stewart, score by Jerry Herman, direction by Jerry Zaks and choreography by Warren Carlyle.
To catch the tour "before the parade passes by," tap here for a complete tour schedule and ticket information.