Well, ‘Hello, Dolly!’

The orchestra plays “Hello Dolly!” as Dolly Gallagher Levi strolls down a wide staircase in her long red dress and feather crown. As Dolly returns to the upscale restaurant Harmonia Gardens, waiters Bob and Bow, singing, “It’s so nice to have you back where you belong.” Dolly brings a new start to everyone she meets, solving problems with a flourish of her customized business cards.

This iconic scene from “Hello Dolly!” fills the stage with energy and color. 

Alluvion Stage Company’s production features professional actors Perry Payne, Mark Inbody, Chris Nelson, Kayla Grizzard and others.  Payne’s portrayal of Dolly encompassed  unflappable matchmaker, delivering her punch lines with finesse and her songs with perfection. In “Before the Parade Passes By,” Payne showed the hopeful heart behind Dolly’s playful meddling. 

The cast sings “Put on your Sunday Clothes.” (Photo: Allison Heise)

Inbody’s portrayal of Horace Vandergelder grew from insufferable to lovable as the character who wanted a wife to keep house fell in love against his will. Nelson sprang onto stage as the spry bumbling Cornelius Hackl, making the audience laugh as he learned to dance and quieting the room as he discovered happiness in “It Only Takes a Moment.” Grizzard as Irene Molloy brought sparkle and a clear pure voice to the widowed hat maker. 

The cast of more than 30 started rehearsing in August and gave student actors the opportunity to gain professional credits for the performance. 

“Dolly’s world is the perfect ideal world,” Linda Nell Copper, chair of the theater arts department and artistic director for the Alluvion Stage Company said. “You walk out of there feeling hope for humanity because of Dolly’s optimism.” 

This performance of “Hello Dolly!” is the first time it has been performed since its recent
Broadway revival. 

The musical, originally based on the play “The Matchmaker” by Thornton Wilder, premiered Sept. 14 in the Tower theater. Dolly, a matchmaker who specializes in happiness for others, discovers she wants to love again after losing her husband. 

 “Dolly has struggled a lot, and you go through the story with her as she is realizing who she is and that she doesn’t want to be alone,” Kylie Sanborn, a member of the ensemble said. “She wants to be just as happy as she was before her husband passed away.” 

Throughout the play the audience is transported to the end of the 19th century and dazzled by colorful costumes and swirling dance numbers Cooper said it is a comical love story that would make you leave the theater with a smile in your face. 

“It is so extravagant compared to normal life that it almost doesn’t seem real — it is a view of life that you imagine,” ensemble member Travlyn Pantana said. “And for us we get to sing, dance and act like it is the best day of our lives.”

Cast members waltz, polka, and even fence to the music as they portray the streets of Yonkers and a parade in New York City.

(Photo: Allison Heise)

 “I want (the audience) to get the sense of nostalgia and Americana” Cooper said. “I want people to walk out smiling and maybe a little more willing to take a
chance on love.”

This show features Alluvion’s largest orchestra to date. Conductor Dr. Katherine Voelker interacts with characters who request songs. At one point the orchestra stands to join the cast to strike a pose. Production crew members wear costumes and puff fake cigarettes as they move set pieces, almost becoming part of the cast

“To be able to take a step back and do a classic the old-fashioned way, it’s really nice,” Cooper said. “I love all the big ensemble numbers, when you got all the cast singing and dancing. I think this is what Broadway is all about.”

Cooper said classic musicals like this one are meant to entertain even musical theater skeptics.

“It doesn’t matter who you come with, just come and enjoy it by yourself and when you leave you probably won’t feel alone — that is our goal,” Cooper said. 

“Hello Dolly!” will show in Liberty’s Tower Theater on September 21, 22, 28, and 29 at 7:30 p.m. and September 23 and 30 at 3 p.m.

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