Say hello to fun times during 'Dolly!' musical


“Hello, Dolly!” is one of those Broadway musicals that everyone thinks they’ve seen, but the Broadway Bound production directed by Michael Vojvodich (with musical direction by Alex Cheney) at the Summerlin Library theater surprises by reminding us just why this Jerry Herman hit was one of Broadway’s longest running and most awarded musicals.

Carly Salway and Rachel Martinez share the well-known role of matchmaker Dolly Levi. I saw Salway in the role on opening night, but I plan on returning to see Martinez — it’s a good excuse to catch the show twice.

Salway carried this central role with a strong stage presence that kept the audience’s eyes on her, though her performance lacked the hint of melancholy that gives Dolly’s pursuit of Horace poignancy in the midst of all the laughs.

Salway is elegantly funny in a series of stunning costumes (staged by Anna Milledge) but perhaps if she had brought a bit of camp to the role, it would have given some of her lines more ironic bite. Underplaying a character as oversized as Dolly is an intelligent strategy, but a little scenery chewing wouldn’t have hurt.

Salway has the pipes to easily fill the theater without being mic’d and I think her vocal quality would have sounded even better without sound enhancement when she belted out the show’s several showstoppers. The buzzing sound system also gave some of the actors’ voices an unpleasant tinny quality.

I did a double take when looking in the program for the photograph of the actor who plays Horace Vandergelder because I could scarcely believe that this sweet-faced youth was the curmudgeon up on the stage.

While his make-up was certainly expertly applied, Harrison Langford’s performance was anything but cosmetic. Though the part tends toward one note — Horace’s favorite, cranky — Harrison Langford played that note very well, and at the end he is briefly allowed a more nuanced emotion.

Unfortunately, he only has one song at the beginning of the show, the ironically funny “It Takes A Woman,” and so we didn’t get to hear Langford’s rich baritone again until the finale.

Jared Brendon Hopper and Jackson Langford as Cornelius and Barnaby, Horace’s exploited and underpaid clerks, are standouts in a very talented cast. The comic duo’s hilarious stage business is so flawlessly synchronized that it is almost as if they are moving as one.

Likewise, when the two nervous bachelors meet the ladies, Jackson Langford’s Barnaby speaks gibberish with such perfect timing to Hopper’s straight man that I was almost fooled into thinking he was making sense. I was reminded of such great comic partners as Crosby and Hope.

The two talented dancers buffoon awkwardness and make Ashley Oblad’s precise choreography look haphazard when they are learning to dance in “Dancing.” They both also give the show’s best vocal performances, Hopper especially in “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” and “It Only Takes a Moment.”

Suzanne Fife, who shares the role of the widowed milliner Irene Molly with Cambry Salway, brought a lovely wistfulness to “Ribbons Down My Back.” Maddison Milledge, who is doubling with Jessica Ruettiger to play Irene’s giggly assistant Minnie Fay, reminded me of the young Goldie Hawn. She has one of the funniest bits in the show when she switches from cry to aria in midscreech. Dance leads Keaton Johns and McKenna Meeks as Ambrose and Ermengarde keep the outstanding ensemble in perfect unison in the showstopping train tableau in “Put On Your Sunday Clothes.” Heaven Akmal almost steals the second act as the hilarious imposter Ernestina Money.

Broadway Bound is the youth musical theatre program at Studio One’s Summerlin Dance Academy. This is a well-performed and professional staging. Also, the charming vaudevillian backdrops and breathtaking costuming make this production Broadway ready.

 

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