Nancy Sasso Janis
Hello, Dolly!' opened on the Warner Theatre's big stage with some added drama on Saturday evening. The usually light musical based on the farce 'The Matchmaker' by Thornton Wilder was written by Michael Stewart with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman was directed in Torrington by Michael Berkeley and choreographed by Amber Cameron with musical direction by Will Minton. Opening night had a little drama in the first act, but I am relieved to report that both the action of the musical and the mishap ended happily.
The director writes that while the show is "a farce by nature, the musical offers more than the usual plot-driven style. With the addition of the tuneful and emotionally-charged music and lyrics...the show is much more than farcically plot driven. It is driven by the heart." More prophetic words could not have appeared in the program for this cast who showed an amazing amount of heart in order to bring this performance to it's conclusion.
During then number ironically entitled "Dancing," the tall actor playing Cornelius, Eric Lindblom, took what I think was a preplanned fall when something went wrong. With what looked to be a severely injured knee, he kept on going as best he could but was unable to dance. After an extended intermission to care for him (thankfully a PA was among the cast members backstage,) he reappeared with a cane, supported by his costar Kate Brophy (as Irene Molloy,) to huge applause. My heart went out to him as he made it through the second act; his acting and singing did not suffer one bit but he had to be in tremendous pain. The rest of the cast did an amazing job of making some quick minor changes and the news is that the initial prognosis on the knee is a good one and he will be performing in the Sunday matinee. Mr, Lindblom is an inspiring example of "the show must go on."
As Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi, Roxie Quinn (Mama Rose in 'Gypsy' at the Warner) gave yet another outstanding performance. She was the perfect brassy and bossy Dolly with rapid fire delivery and her marvelous singing voice. Ms. Quinn has been involved with the Warner Theatre for the last 13 year, but she started when she was very young. Still, she looked the part in her luxe ensembles designed by Renee C. Purdy and flattering wig. The costumes of Ms. Brophy were equally as lovely, and those were ones I mentioned to the costumer during intermission. Ms. Brophy was beautiful in her Warner debut as Mrs. Molloy and could not have been a more supportive costar to Mr. Lindblom.
Jim Wood played the blustery Horace Vandergelder with fine comic sense and Cole Sutton charmed the audience in the role of young Barnaby Tucker. Jamie M. Weisberg was the wacky Ernestina Money, Becky Sawacki was the young Minnie Fay and WZBG's John Ozerhoski had a cameo as the judge. The men in the waiters chorus did well with the intricate choreography. The fine ensemble in costumes one more beautiful than the next included young actors Elisabeth Leifert and Benjamin Dressel as brother and sister. Special thanks to Elisabeth's mom Michelle for keeping me informed of Mr. Lindblom's condition.
Mr. Lindblom, who I had last seen as Andre Thibault in 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' at the Warner, is an English teacher at Southington High School. Before his injury, I had taken a note about the physicality involved in his role as the lanky Cornelius Hackl and that of Barnaby Tucker played by Mr. Sutton. Mr. Lindblom was a strong actor and singer throughout the three hour performance and I would have congratulated him on his fine performance even if he hadn't taken on an onstage injury. I am so glad to hear that he will heal and be able to return to the Warner stage.
The orchestra under the direction of Mr. Minton did a great job with the soaring score. The set by the director, Steve Huok and Sharon A. Wilcox took us back to a simpler time and the choreography fit the stage and its extension around the pit quite nicely. "Before the Parade Passes By" and "Dancing" were especially well-staged.
Click here to listen to the podcast of Backstage with Johnny O’s interview with the director and Roxie Quinn.
Performances are Saturday, May 2 & 9, at 8 pm, Sunday, May 3 & 10 at 2 pm and Friday, May 8 at 8 pm. Tickets are $18-26. Call the Warner Box Office at 860-489-7180 or online at www.warnertheatre.org