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Hello Dolly! On Stage at Roger Rocka’s

IN THE May 25 ISSUE

FROM THE 2016 Articles,
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by Terrance Mc Arthur

Hello, Janet!

Janet Glaudé has been a go-to performer with the Good Company Players for many years, and she finally has a leading role she can claim for hers—Dolly Gallagher Levi in Hello, Dolly! Dolly is a woman who is good at meddling in the lives of others, and Janet will be meddling in the hearts of her audiences at Roger Rocka’s through July 17.

The 1964 Jerry Herman (songs) – Michael Stewart (book) musical has a long genealogy, stretching back to Thornton Wilder’s 1955 play The Matchmaker, which was based on his 1938 The Merchant of Yonkers, which was based on an Austrian play of the 1840s, adapted from an 1835 British play, A Day Well Spent. It’s a big, tuneful romp, with the title song and “Before the Parade Passes By,” “Ribbons Down My Back,” and “It Only Takes a Moment” featured in the score.

theatre

Good Company Player’s cast of HELLO DOLLY!

Dolly is hired to find a bride for Yonkers businessman Horace Vandergelder (Gordon Moore), but she wants him for her own. His store clerks (Tim Smith, Marcus Cardenas) take off and head for the big city of New York, winding up in the hat shop of Irene Malloy (Abigail Nolte), Vandergelder’s arranged match. The progenitors of this musical were farces, so farcical things happen. It’s a musical comedy, so everybody winds up happily matched.

I first worked in a show with Glaudé more than 25 years ago. I was in awe of her talent then, and I still am. I have seen portrayals of Dolly that were brash and abrasive, but Janet comes off as smooth and silky, confident that everything is going to work out in her favor, gliding along as if she’d borrowed the roller-shoes from GCP’s recent Disney’s The Little Mermaid. She starts soft and slow, building like a tsunami, cresting with the “Parade” song. She’s a delight, as always.

theatre

Dolly (Janet Glaudé) and Horace Vandergelder (Gordon Moore)

Moore is a reliable laugh maker, vinegary and blustery as Vandergelder, finding himself in the outrageous situations Dolly orchestrates. He cheerfully plays the M.C.P. in the politically-incorrect “It Takes a Woman,” listing all the things his ideal woman would do that demonstrate why women needed liberation.

If Janet Glaudé is the queen of my heart at GCP, Nolte is moving into the position of Crown Princess. This towering talent turns “Ribbons” from a wistful wish to a resolution of self-determination. Her striking voice has a velvety core of power.

Smith as Cornelius Hackle (a part originally played by Charles Nelson Reilly) is less conniving clerk than wannabe adventurer. His pipe-cleaner legs cleave the air in impossible arcs, while Ginger Kay Lewis-Reed’s costume coat sails around him. Cardenas is surprising agile as the junior clerk chugging along in his co-worker’s wake, counting pennies—and buttons—at every turn.

theatre

Good Company Player’s cast of HELLO DOLLY!

Shawn Williams is typically debonair as the starving artist who would do anything to wed Vandergelder’s weepy niece Ermengarde (Jana Price). Kindle Lynn Cowger is wide-eyed and winsome as Molloy’s assistant. Larry Mattox offers his usual sturdy support as the maître d’ of the restaurant where all the characters (surprise) show up at the same time. As an example of GCP’s company depth, Juan Danner (who played Fagin in Oliver!) is high-stepping as a high-class waiter in the chorus to the choreography of Kaye Migaki and director Steve Souza. The dream-like pastel shadows of 1890s New York City on David Pierce’s set help set the sentimental tone.

It’s a good old-fashioned musical and it’s good old-fashioned fun. Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater is at 1226 N. Wishon Avenue in Fresno. Call (559) 266-9494 or go to gcplayers.com for tickets.

Check out more theatre reviews & other local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a Community Librarian for the WoW! (WithOut Walls) Division of the Fresno County Public Library, roaming the Valley to meet the public’s information needs.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Sandy HemsherNo Gravatar
Twitter: @Sandy Hemsher
May 26, 2016 at 7:48am

I saw this in Chicago in 1964 staring Carole Channing. My speech events class took us. 50 years later I still remember it!!!!! Great show, music, and Carole !! What not to love!!!!!

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