Mom Theatre Blogger: HELLO, DOLLY!: Review by Jane Waldman


Not many actresses would agree to share the role of Dolly Levi with Tony Award winner Bette Midler, who is dazzling Broadway audiences in the latest revival of  HELLO, DOLLY!  But two-time Tony Award winner, Donna Murphy, has proven that she is more than up to the challenge.  Murphy alternates with Midler on Tuesday nights and is filling in for her during Midler’s planned vacations.  If you were concerned that getting tickets on a Tuesday meant you would not experience as good a performance as Midler’s, never fear.  Murphy, in the role of a lifetime, does not disappoint.

Donna Murphy has the audience eating out of the palm of her hand from her surprise entrance in the opening number, “Call On Dolly,” until the final curtain call. She delivers an exuberant performance throughout that is contagious to both the excellent supporting cast and her gleeful audiences.  In her emotional, show stopping number “Before the Parade Passes By,” Murphy expresses her fear of returning to society after the death of her husband, Ephraim. This is an especially emotional scene for Murphy, who recently lost her husband, actor Shawn Eliott to cancer.

David Hyde Pierce, who audiences know best as Niles Crane from the hit TV show Frasier, also wins over audiences and has great chemistry with Murphy in the role of Horace Vandergelder.  His facial expressions in his scenes with Murphy’s Dolly are worth the cost of admission; but no one can top Murphy’s hilarious, scene stealing devouring of a turkey leg and dumplings in the second act.

(photo credit: Julieta Cervantes)

Gavin Creel and Taylor Trensch make a wonderful comedic team as the store clerks Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker.  In his Tony winning performance as Cornelius Hackl, Creel especially shines throughout the production with impeccable singing, dancing and acting proving he is a true triple threat.

Kate Baldwin is also lovely as the hat shop owner, Irene Malloy.  Malloy, like the character of Dolly Levi, is a widow, and is reluctant to marry again until she falls in love with Creel’s character. The entire cast is outstanding as the dancing and singing waiters as well as the flawless ensemble in the show stopping number Hello Dolly.

Jerry Zaks, one of Broadway’s most respected directors, brings his excellent musical theater talents to this production of Hello Dolly and Jerry Herman’s iconic score, which includes the upbeat number “Put on Your Sunday Clothes,” is uplifting as well as highlights the show’s colorful and magnificent period costumes.

With a unique and career defining performance by Donna Murphy, this is a show that audiences will not want to miss. Not to say that Bette Midler isn’t spectacular in the role of Dolly Levi, but Murphy’s performance will not disappoint and will keep audiences humming Herman’s upbeat tunes long after they have left the theater.

HELLO, DOLLY! is playing at the Shubert Theatre.

 

Jane Waldman, a, later mom, award-winning journalist and graduate of Cornell University, worked for over 15 years as a contributing Entertainment Correspondent for The Associated Press Radio Network and for 5 years hosted her own “On Broadway” Podcasts covering the Broadway and Off-Broadway theater scenes.

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