Taking on the eponymous match-maker this time round is Samantha Spiro (recently seen in Funny Girl at the Chichester Festival Theatre), in a production directed by Open Air artistic director Timothy Sheader and choreographed by Stephen Mear (the same team behind last year’s Whatsonstage.com Award-nominated revival of Gigi).
Jerry Herman's musical, which has a book by Michael Stewart, premiered on Broadway in 1964 and went on to scoop ten Tony Awards. It was famously made into a 1969 film starring Barbra Streisand in the title role.
Alongside Spiro, the Open Air cast also features Allan Corduner, Mark Anderson, Clare Louise Connolly, Oliver Brenin, Daniel Crossley, Josefina Gabrielle, Akiya Henry, Andy Hockley and John Stacey.
The overnight critics generally welcomed Hello Dolly! back to the London stage with open arms. Although some labelled Herman's match-making musical intrinsically “odd” and “strange” on the plot front, all were agreed that in Samanth Spiro, director Sheader has unearthed a “superlative lead”, more than capable of driving this “star vehicle” of a show. Her co-star Allan Corduner was generally deemed the perfect foil as the “tyrannical Vandergelder”, while Stephen Mear's “stunning” choreography was the stand-out feature in several critics' eyes. On balance though the evening, and its thunder, undoubtedly belonged to Spiro.