I love a good old fashioned “musical”. One that brings back memories of the old days with a story, lots of dancing and of course songs that we hum as we leave the theater. Drury Lane Oakbrook brings us musicals the way they were, but with a twist and for that they should be applauded.Their current production is “Hello Dolly”, the musical based on Thornton Wilder’s “The Matchmaker”, with a book by Michael Stewart and the music and lyrics by Jerry Herman. The story takes place in the early 1900’s in Yonkers New York and in New York City where a widow, Dolly Gallagher Levi ( I must tell you that Karen Ziemba plays this role as I have never seen before- she is sheer perfection), a matchmaker is working on several matches including one for herself. It is a simple story about love, romance, and people finding the positives in life.
“It Only Took A Moment” for me to fall in love with this production and not just the wonderful Dolly, but an ensemble that brings the wonderful old fashioned musical to life, once again. As Horace Vandergelder, the shopkeeper in Yonkers who has engaged Dolly, is Chicago favorite David Lively , who continues to amaze audiences with his wide spread talents., The brilliant Jeff Diebold as his clerk Cornelius who along with his co-worker Barnaby ( newcomer Lee Slobotkin, who I am sure we will see more of in the future) also take an adventure day off and head off to New York. It is the strange twist of fate that has these men all end up at the same place for the evening where many mishaps take us on a very special day for them. The women involved are Irene Molloy ( deftly handled by the always reliable Emily Rohm) a widow who was supposed to be Horace’s match and her worker Minnie Fay ( the adorable Maggie Portman). The other major roles are Horace’s niece Ermengarde (the delightful Laura Savage) and her boyfriend Ambrose ( Skylar Adams), but to be honest, what makes this play as strong as it is ( and for as long as it has been around) is the ensemble. If the production lacks in ensemble talent it doesn’t make it, and this cast, skillfully directed by award winning Rachel Rockwell is as powerful as it gets. her dance numbers are extraordinary and when the “hello Dolly” number is done, the audience cannot help itself from wanting to give this number a standing ovation. The waiters are amazing!- I believe the 8 men are Jared Titus, Richard Strimer,Will Skrip,Stephen Schellhardt,Zachary L. Gray,Bryan Howard Conner and David Baur. Bravo!
While watching this production on a set designed by Kevin Depinet that uses the open stage to full advantage, many memories of prior Dolly players come to mind- Channing, Streisand Merman, each one bringing something different to the orle, but it is a pleasure to watch Ziemba bring something different to the stage- a dancer, singer, actress who becomes Dolly and brings a real woman out in what others have played as a carictature- Dolly is now a real woman trying to have a normal life and Ziemba is superb. As always, the glitz and glamour of the musical are part of the production at Drury Lane thanks to the people on the teck side as well: Roberta Duchak as Musical Director, Jesse Klug as lighting designer, Theresa Ham ( the costumes are outstanding), Ray Nardelli for the sound,Nick Heggestad for his amazing gathering of props,Rick Jarvie for the assortment of wigs. The songs in this show are absolutely ones that the older members of the audience will be humming on the way out, “It Takes A Woman”, “Put On Your Sunday Clothes”, “Dancing”, “It Only Takes A Moment” and of course the title song,”hello Dolly” This is definitely an “oldie but goodie” that you should put on your “TO GO “list.
“Hello Dolly” will continue at Drury Lane Oakbrook through the holiday season, ending on Januaru 5th with performances as follows:
Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Sundays at 2 and 6 p.m.
Tickets range from $35 to $49 and lunch and dinner packages from $50 to $74 ( this is value )
Student tickets start at $30 and seniors at $32 for matinees.
To purchase tickets call 630-530-0111, call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or visit www.drurylane.com
Drury Lane Oakbrook is located just north of the Oakbrook Mall and has plenty of free parking. To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Hello Dolly”