Tuesday, May 24, 2011

REVIEW: Hello Dolly! (Raleigh, North Carolina)

Raleigh Memorial Auditorium (Raleigh, North Carolina), Saturday May 7

This is my last show in USA, and I am glad that I am done reviewing all the 14 performances in my recent trip. I have never been to Raleigh, North Carolina. In fact, I have never heard of this place until I was looking for a flight back to New York. I was in New York first, and then I traveled south to Philadelphia, then on to Washington DC and Virginia. It seems to make sense to travel further south and find a flight back to New York and then to Hong Kong. Surprisingly, Raleigh was the only city that has a flight (I can only fly American Airline as I was using a redemption ticket) to New York that fitted my schedule!

I was kind of looking forward to the North Carolina Theatre’s Hello Dolly! as it was advertised to feature Cybill Shepherd. Yes, I am of that age to have enjoyed her performances in Moonlighting. Apparently, Cybill injured her leg (off-stage) with only a week’s rehearsal left before the opening; but the show must goes on and in came Jacquelyn Piro Donovan. And indeed the show went on.

Despite never having played the part before, Donovan did a fine job. And because I saw her in the opening night, I can only assume that after a few more performances and without the technical problems (mostly sounds), she would be a fabulous Dolly. Donovan’s Dolly was more like Mama Rose in Gypsy, a bigger and brassier character; and also with a bit more heart, an interesting and equally valid (if not a bit more modern) proposition.

Stephen Godwin’s stuffy half-a-million Harace Vandergelder was neither forgettable nor memorable. Matt Loehr as Corbelius and Gail Bennett as Irene gave a wonderful performance that was both silly and romantic while Jeremy Morse as Barnaby and Halle Morse as Minnie were comically perky and perfect. Complementing the performers was the borrowed atmospheric sets from Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre and the equally gorgeous period costumes from Costume World Theatrical.

Aside from the North Carolina Museum of Art, Hello Dolly! was pretty much the highlight of an otherwise boring city.

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