Hello Dolly!: Suzart Production puts on good show in the face of last minute problems

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Photo courtesy of Suzart Productions

Photo courtesy of Suzart Productions

Hello Dolly
Book by Michael Stewart
Music and lyrics by Jerry Herman
Based on The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder
Suzart Productions
Directed by Sue Fowler Dacey

Kudos to Suzart Productions for their dedication to the show-must-go-on principle at the heart of show business.

Just a week before opening night, the leading lady fell ill. What do you do when you have no understudy to play Dolly Levi in the musical that revolves around her every move in the business of matchmaking/meddling?

Some companies might have postponed the show. Not Suzart.

Musical director (vocals) Holly Villeneuve stepped into the massive role at the last minute. The cast and crew, particularly the costume department, who made a new wardrobe for the new Dolly, and leading man Gerry Jacques, went into high gear. Hello Dolly opened on May 26 as scheduled and delivered a creditable production that gave no indication of the crisis.

As directed by Sue Fowler Dacey, Villeneuve is a believable Dolly, who performs with gusto. Jacques, as the wealthy Horace Vandergelder is appropriately unpleasant. He is a commanding presence, even as he succumbs to matchmaker Dolly’s true intentions.

Mary Lou Hulan, as Horace’s initial intended, the milliner Irene Molloy, delivers a particularly well-sung Ribbons Down My Back and Andrew Portolesi has a lot of fun in portraying the bouncy Cornelius.

Choreographer Sarah Dee’s concepts are interesting, although they are not always well executed by the dancers, and Elaine McCausland’s economical set works well in the limited space.

There are, however, a number of problems. As well as some ragged movement in the chorus, the orchestra, under the baton of Alina Séguin-Holmes, periodically overwhelms the singers. In addition, the tempo occasionally drags and the notes are not always true.

Anna Séguin, as Irene’s assistant Minnie, while clear about her characterization, is so squeaky that she is hard to understand and Lili Roussakis, as Horace’s constantly crying niece, has a similar problem.

On the plus side, the cast nails the big restaurant scene as the waiters race around and Dolly makes her big entrance for the title number. This is the scene that gives a clear indication of the 10-year-old company’s potential.

Suzart Productions’ Hello Dolly continues at the Centrepointe Studio theatre to May 29.

Technical direction and set: Elaine McCausland

Choreographer: Sarah Dee

Musical director (vocals) Holly Villeneuve; (band) Alina Séguin-Holmes

Lighting: Rob Puchyr

Costumes: Maureen Russell

Cast:

Dolly Levi……………………………………………………Holly Villeneuve

Horace Vandergelder…………………………………………Gerry Jacques

Irene Molloy………………………………………………….Mary Lou Hulan

Minnie Fay……………………………………………………Anna Séguin

Cornelius Hackl………………………………………………Andrew Portolesi

Barnaby Tucker………………………………………………Jason Sedlar

Ermengarde…………………………………………………..Lili Roussakis

Ambrose………………………………………………………Ryan Pedersen

Ernestina……………………………………………………..Shelagh St. John

Mrs. Rose…………………………………………………….Tara St. Pierre

Rudolf…………………………………………………………Fenton Ho

Judge………………………………………………………….Lesley Hammil

Court clerk……………………………………………………Francine Landry

Stanley/paper hanger…………………………………………Liam Gossom

Chorus:

Amanda Armstrong, Griffin Brown, Grace Cosgrove, Sylvie Desjardins, Liam Gossom, Lesley Hammil, Fenton Ho, Francine Landry, Sydney Maloney, Alison Manning, Dahlia Meyer, Sarah-Lynn Proulx, Natalie Reid, Shelagh St, John, Tara St, Pierre, Tessa Sanchez-Jacobs, Bethany Tee, Cheryl Wallingford, Lizziee Warland

Orchestra:

Minni Ang, Ian Carpenter, John Corkett, Matt Diener, Jessica Granata, Chuck Kerr, Michael Moore, Tony Nguyen, Christine Philipson,


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