Hello Dolly! (Curve, Leicester)
Directed by the venue’s musicals king Paul Kerryson, this glitzy, glamorous production is crammed with lavish costumes, huge sets, well-drilled dancers and lusty vocalists.
The Jerry Herman score, originally written with Ethel Merman in mind, is bursting with energy as it recounts the matchmaking exploits of wisecracking widow Dolly Levi in late-19th Century New York. The sparkle of the material is matched every inch of the way by the performances, which are delivered with genuine passion and large doses of fun.
Janie Dee, stepping into the show fairly late in the day, gives a Dolly who’s adorable and exasperating in equal measure, grounding the show with quality and class and covering the tricky musical range with ease and elegance.
She’s well supported by Dale Rapley as grumpy widower Horace Vandergelder, the target of her own matchmaking intentions, and a wonderful double-act as his employees Cornelius and Barnaby. This pair, played with joyous boyishness by Michael Xavier and Jason Denton, are never less than infectious with their bright-eyed innocence and drop-of-a-hat falling in love, and do much to make this show a real crowdpleaser.
Topped off with a fabulous on-stage band of eight under musical director Ben Atkinson, the production looks and sounds terrific and is sure to have Leicester’s toes tapping right through the festive season.