Theatre, TV Film & Radio
Sunderland Empire - 19 August 2008
Victoria Watson reviewing "Hello Dolly" for Chronicle Live, Newcastle, at the Sunderland Empire.
SAY HELLO TO A GREAT SHOW
IF the recent credit crunch has left you unable to visit New York City for real, take a trip to the Sunderland Empire this week. You'll be transported across the Atlantic and back to 1890 in this musical extravaganza. Hello, Dolly! has toured the country and is now nearing the end of its current run. The extravagant costumes are colourful and glamorous, the dancers are acrobatic and the singing is amazing. It's a surprise that with a voice like Anita Dobson's, her husband, Brian May, hasn't asked her to front Queen! Her range is tremendous, but what came as the biggest shock of the night was her unwaveringly accurate Bronx accent. Dobson was not the only one who gave a brilliant performance though. The entire cast were exceptional throughout. Dolly Levi (Dobson) is a widow who is finally going back out into New York society after a prolonged period of mourning following the death of her husband, Ephraim. She is a jack of all trades - a dance teacher, a marriage broker and well-loved busy body. Dolly is trying to fix herself up with the rich Horace Vandergelder (David McAllister), while his shop clerks Barnaby (Hamilton Sargent) and Cornelius Hackl (Darren Day)skive off work to visit the bright lights of NYC. While they are there, they meet Minnie (Amanda Salmon) and Irene Malloy (Louise English). Dolly encourages Cornelius and Barnaby to take the girls out dancing to the most expensive place in town - somewhere they can't afford until Barnaby's empty wallet gets mixed=up with Horace's bulging purse. Mayhem ensures as Dolly sets Horace up on false dates in order for him to realise she is the one he wants. The sets are as lavish as the costumes in this wonderful journey back in time. Darren Day was a pleasant surprise, playing the bumbling Cornelius perfectly. It was really difficult to imagine him as the love rat he is made out to be in the Press. Dobson looks comfortable on the stage alone and is a wonderful Dolly. The performances mean this revived West End show is of the highest caliber. It was a shame to say Goodbye Dolly at the end of the night!