Hello, Dolly! in Concert

| July 17, 2016

Hello, Dolly! in Concert

Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco, CA, July 6, 2016

Reviewed by Steve Murray for Cabaret Scenes

Hello-Dolly-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212Feinstein’s at the Nikko is celebrating Jerry Herman by presenting both Hello, Dolly! and Mame in concert format. With a smart and creative book by Allen Sawyer, excellent musical direction by Joe Wicht and a sparkling cast, Hello, Dolly! was an unqualified success. Unlike the full 25th anniversary concert of Les Misérables, this Dolly presented wisely chosen selections of songs from several incarnations of the Broadway show, as well as the Barbra Streisand movie, interspersed with some juicy backstories of the show’s creative process.

Sawyer’s script, deliciously delivered by host Darlene Popovic, is a theater queen’s delight, and fascinating theater history for the novice. For instance: the casting of Dolly, the signature role of a lifetime for Carol Channing. The role was originally intended for Ethel Merman, who turned it down. Mary Martin, nope. (She did play the role in London.) Nancy Walker, didn’t happen. The show’s title was Dolly, A Damned Exasperating Woman before it was changed after the release of the Louis Armstrong smash version of “Hello, Dolly!”

The stellar cast at Feinstein’s included musical heavyweights Mike Greensill (Horace Vandergelder), Wesla Whitfield as Dolly Levi, and Maureen McVerry as Minnie Fay. Newcomers Heather Orth, Alex Rodriguez, Nick Quintell and Juliana Lustenader round out the very talented cast. Right off the bat, the ensemble number “Call on Dolly” set a high bar. Whitfield showed off her impeccable phrasing on “I Put My Hand In.” Mike Greensill sang “Just Leave Everything to Me,” a song written for Streisand’s movie version. Whitfield, Rodriguez (Cornelius Hackl) and Quintell (Barnaby Tucker) shown on “Put on Your Sunday Clothes,” and Orth brought down the house on “World, Take Me Back,” written for Merman and re-inserted into the show when she eventually took over the role.

Sawyer keenly includes “Sunflower,” a Mack David song that was the focus of a copyright infringement suit against Herman and his title tune “Hello, Dolly!” Sung by Lustenader, it’s not hard to see why Herman settled out of court. There’s a jazz version of “Hello, Dolly” performed by Greensill, and a cute political campaign version written for Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 Presidential run.

Hopefully the concert version of Mame (August 11, 12 and 13) will follow this winning formula and be just as delightful.

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, Regional, San Francisco, San Francisco Cabaret Reviews

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