Winner of the Combinations award for the year’s ‘Best Musical’, the Festival Players’ 2005 show saw them return to Yonkers to revisit their hit from 1991, Hello, Dolly. Nigel Murfitt cast off Petruchio’s doublet-and-hose to return to the director’s chair, with Toni Grantham once more slipping on her dancing shoes as choreographer. The show also saw the debut as director’s assistant of Suzanne Emerson, who would go on to direct many of the company’s shows over the next decade.
Director Nigel Murfitt
Musical Director Brian Thomas
Choreographer Antonia Grantham
Lighting Design David McRobb
Sets Stagesets, London
Costume Design Liz Milway
Dolly Levi – Linda Thomas
Horace Vandergelder – Stephen von Schreiber
Irene Molloy – Catriona Nicol
Cornelius Hackl – Thomas O’Connor
Barnaby Tucker – Matt Gregory
Minnie Fay – Kath Lees
Ermengarde Vandergelder – Janice Chambers
Ambrose Kemper – Alan Hay
Rudolf – Mike Husband
Judge – Simon Merrington
Ernestina Money – Pippa Taylor
Simon Braybrooke, Bob Eastham, Mike Husband, Gary Riches, Joe Oakes, Kevin O’Meara, Simon Merrington, Roger Wood.
Alison Arnold, Angela Carr, Caroline Taylor, Helen Brown, Jane Randall, Liz Willcocks, Ruth Groves, Sara Grimshaw, Trisha Rumsby, Vicki Gregory, Claire Dewhurst, Pippa Taylor.
Production and publicity photos
…a real treat for lovers of musical theatre!
Hello, Dolly! (book by Michael Stewart and music & lyrics by Jerry Herman) first opened in New York City in January 1964 with Carol Channing in the title role and went on to win 10 Tony awards. It became one of Broadway’s longest-running musicals and was eventually made into a successful, Hollywood film starring Barbra Streisand. I have never, until now, seen either the film or the stage version so only knew what I had read i.e. that it is based on Thorton Wilder’s 1955 comedy, The Matchmaker, which tells the story of Horace Vandergelder, a rich hay and grain merchant from Yonkers, New York who hires a matchmaker, Mrs. Dolly Levi-Gallagher to find him a suitable wife. As the story unfolds, it turns out that the beautiful, spirited and meddlesome Dolly, who is herself a widow, is looking for another husband. And she has her eyes firmly fixed on the “half-millionaire” Mr. Vandergelder. As it happens, he never really has a chance.
This was a very well cast production. The First Lady of musicals Linda Thomas played the title role and you always get what you expect from this artiste, an excellent performance coupled with exceptional talent.
Among the large cast, the second leads were admirably portrayed by Thomas O’Connor as Cornelius Hackl and Matt Gregory as Barnaby Tucker in their roles as the young and hopeful-suitors. These two young men worked well together: Thomas O’Connor especially has an excellent voice, the ballad; It Only Takes a Moment was a joy to listen to. There were some gems among the smaller roles as well, particularly Minnie Fay played with engaging gaucheness by Kath Lees and Catriona Nicol as the widow Irene Molloy. Good pairing too with Alan Hay (Ambrose Kemper) and Janice Chambers (Ermengarde) the couple forbidden to marry by Ermengarde’s uncle Mr. Vandergelder played with empathy by Stephen Von Schreiber.
The chorus, as always with the Festival Players, was meticulously rehearsed, tuneful and confident and it was nice to see a strong male contingent joining the ladies: Put on Your Sunday Clothes was excellent. The Harmonia Gardens Restaurant scene was equally impressive. Waiters and Waitresses sang, danced, ducked and dived with plates, glasses and trays enhanced with some nice spots of comedy business plus the famous title song Hello, Dolly!, which did not disappoint.
Under Nigel Murfitt’s imaginative direction (loved the train and the parade!) this production contained, neat footwork and great singing. Brian Thomas and his orchestra go from strength to strength, as always adding that extra dimension to an already good show.
This was a thoroughly enjoyable production a real treat for lovers of musical theatre!
Julie Petrucci, Combinations 2005. Reproduced with kind permission.
NODA review: ‘Hello, Dolly!’
A good choice for this Company and a vehicle for the highly talented Thomas team, with Linda giving a superb performance as Dolly and Brian providing excellent back-up from the pit. Linda as Dolly, a first class manipulator, ran rings around a cantankerous Horace Vandergelder (Stephen von Schreiber) who, of course, had to succumb in the end! His staff, Cornelius and Barnaby, very well portrayed by Thomas O’Connor and Matt Gregory, impressed and set a good pace for the show. Ermingarde (Janice Chambers) and Ernestina (Pippa Taylor) were also very good. Kath Lees gave us a great giggly Minnie and Catriona Nicol a confident Irene Molloy. The second act sported an entertaining court scene and the final capture of Horace. The set was mainly trucked and I particularly like the Hat shop scenes. The chorus movement was good and the dance in the Hat Shop very well done. An enjoyable evening.