‘Hello Dolly’ still very funny and heartfelt


Heidi Kettenring as Dolly at Marriott Theatre. Photos courtesy of Liz Loren)
Heidi Kettenring as Dolly at Marriott Theatre. (Photos courtesy of Liz Loren)

4 Stars

Of course, you will be leaving the Marriott Theatre production of Hello Dolly singing its famed theme song but what you are likely to be talking about is the shows fabulous choreography and fine acting.

What audience members who already had tickets for Sept. 15 might not know is that after previews, that date was the show’s new opening night. It came two weeks after the original opening Aug. 31 was canceled due to Covid among some cast members.

Possibly they might have noticed that the production didn’t include a staircase that Dolly Levi typically comes down for a grand entrance into her favorite café, Harmonia Gardens. A note with the program said there was a hydraulic problem.

The delay and staircase absence just didn’t matter. The production and performances received a well-deserved standing ovation.

Superbly directed and choreographed by Denis Jones, this old crowd-pleaser, a musical based on Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker. is filled with wonderfully comic and heartfelt moments.

Left Alex Goodrich as Cornelius Hackl and right Spencer Davis Milford as Barnaby Tucker. in Hello Dolly at Marriott Theatre
Left Alex Goodrich as Cornelius Hackl and right Spencer Davis Milford as Barnaby Tucker. in Hello Dolly at Marriott Theatre

There is the delightful Act One scene in widow Irene Molloy’s (Rebecca Hurd) hat shop where Cornelius Hackl (Alex Goodrich) and Barnaby Tucker (Spencer Davis Milford), two young Yonkers lads in New York for a night on the town, try to hide from their employer, widower Horace Vandergelder (David C. Girolmo). He left Yonkers to meet a prospective wife with help from matchmaker Dolly Levi (Heidi Kettenring).

And, there is the hysterical moment played to the hilt by Kettenring near the end of Act II when she prolongs a hearing of before a judge that involves the show’s main characters. As everyone waits and waits, Dolly thoroughly enjoys a dinner she had started back at Harmonia Gardens and brought to the courtroom.

As to heartfelt, there is Hurd beautifully singing “Ribbons Down My Back” as she puts on one of her hat creations for her sudden date with Hackl.

There is also Kettenring bringing audience members close to tears with her rendition of “Before the Parade Passes By.”

And speaking of parades, there is a wonderful scene of New York’s  14th Street Association Parade that includes people marching with placards and banners for women’s rights.  Although set in the late 1800s, the show proves it is still relevant.

Originally directed and choreographed by Gower Champion you can expect several strong dance scenes. Marriott’s Hello Dolly delivers with Jones’ brilliant interpretations of the sentiments expressed in this Tony Award-Winning Musical with its book by Michael Stewart and music by Jerry Herman.  

Shoutouts also have to go to the Marriott Orchestra conducted by Brad Haak, to Music Director Ryan Nelson, Costume Designer Theresa Ham and to Co-Scenic Designers Jeffrey D. Kmiec and Milo Bue. They nailed the musical’s rhythms and time period.

Even though Hello Dolly opened on Broadway in 1964, matchmaking hopes are still alive today with online dating and the desire to participate in life “before the parade passes by,” is still a strong motivator.

DETAILS: Hello Dolly is at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire, now through Oct. 16, 2022. Running time: about 2 ½ hours with one intermission. For tickets and more information visit Marriott Theatre

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

‘Hello Dolly’ still a favorite


Director/Choreographer Denis Jones (Photo courtesy of Denis Jones)
Director/Choreographer Denis Jones (Photo courtesy of Denis Jones)


The book by Michael Stewart and the lyrics and music by Jerry Herman will still enchant audiences when the regular (post previews) run of “Hello Dolly” opens Aug. 31, 2022 at Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire, according to Director/Choreographer Denis Jones.

Based On playwright Thornton Wilder’s “The Matchmaker,” the musical won Tonys for Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score and Best Musical when it opened on Broadway back in 1964.

But Jones who has worked productions from the NY City Center and Kennedy Center to Goodman Theatre and the Lyric Opera, isn’t worried that the show, set in the late 1800’s, will be considered too dated by Marriott’s sophisticated suburban audience.

“Its appeal is enduring,” said Jones during a recent phone interview.

“It explores the human experience. It continues to be relevant,” he said.

“It’s about grief and there is the deep humanity of Dolly Gallagher Levi,” said Jones. “Dolly brings people together.”

He also liked that Wilder’s characters took “bold” steps that defied society in the late 1800s.

Originally a farce written in 1938 as the “Merchant of Yonkers,” Wilder revised the play at the urging of Shakespeare and theater authority Tyrone Guthrie. Renamed “The Matchmaker,” It opened in 1955 and won a Tony under Guthrie’s direction.

What might audiences expect under Jones’ direction?

“I’m honoring the Thornton Wilder experience of actors speaking to the audience,” said Jones who wanted to take advantage of Marriott’s “Theater in the Round” configuration and that shows there can use the aisles in their productions.

“I’m already seeing that working in the previews (started Aug. 24). I was delighted.” He added, “The characters commune with the audience. It feels intimate.”

In a spacer like the Marriott, I feel the audience is very much a part of the show – the audience is included.”

Jones also praised the Marriott cast and lead of Heidi Kettenring.  “I have a Dolly who will knock your socks off.”

Noting the musical’s iconic songs, he repeats the show’s enduring qualities and adds with an exclamation mark, “There’s the score!”

For more information visit Hello Dolly at Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire.

Jodie Jacobs

‘Hello Dolly’


Betty Buckley & Hello, Dolly! National Tour Company. (Photos by Julieta Cervantes)
Betty Buckley & Hello, Dolly! National Tour Company. (Photos by Julieta Cervantes)

I’m glad you’re on stage in Chicago where you belong.

It doesn’t matter if Carol Channing, Bette Midler or Barbara Streisand come to mind, the current touring version with Theatre Hal l of Famer Betty Buckley as Dolly Levi, that  brash New York “meddler, matchmaker and miraculous handler of anything needed, is making her endearing way into audiences hearts.

Fortunately the tour is currently in Chicago at the Ford Oriental Theatre where audiences also get a terrific Horace Vandergelder in the person of consummate film and stage actor Lewis J. Stadlen and a talented supporting cast.

Both Nic Rouleau (Book of Mormon) as head Vanergelder clerk  Cornelius Hackl and his love interest, Analisa Leaming who  reprises her Broadway role as hat shopper owner Irene Malloy,enchant audiences with their wonderful rendition of  “It only Takes a Moment.”

While Jess LeProtto (Broadway “Hello, Dolly! Ensemble) pulls off exciting dance moves as junior clerk Barnaby Tucker and his love interest Kristen Hahn (Broadway, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder), adds delightful comic relief as hat shop employee Minnie Fay.

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