Review: “Hello, Dolly!” at Casa Manana

 Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Piro Donovan as “Dolly Gallagher Levi” in Hello, Dolly! at North Carolina Theatre, 2011. Curtis Brown Photography.

Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Piro Donovan as “Dolly Gallagher Levi” in Hello, Dolly! at North Carolina Theatre, 2011. Curtis Brown Photography.

Shawn Stalter

  • Contributing Dallas/Ft.Worth Theatre Critic

Casa Manana kicked off their 60th season of bringing Broadway and children’s theatre to Fort Worth with a captivating, high-energy performance of the 14-time Tony Award-winning classic, Hello, Dolly!, based on Thorton Wilder’s 1938 farce The Merchant of Yonkers.

Casa Manana, or the House of Tomorrow,’s uniquely-modern, sophisticated and futuristic stylings crafted a unique juxtaposition to transport the audience back in time to turn-of-the-20th century Yonkers, New York. Here, the audience played witness to the cunning antics of the professional matchmaker, Dolly Gallagher Levi, masterfully performed by Ms. Jacquelyn Piro Donovan. The story centers around Dolly’s half-hearted attempts to locate a suitable match for the miserly curmudgeon, Horace Vandergelder, who is in hot pursuit of a dutiful wife to attend his household as highlighted perfectly in the classic number “It Takes a Woman.” However, Mr. Vandergelder unwittingly runs headlong into Dolly’s schemes to place herself firmly in his romantic cross-hairs.

It was easy to fall head over heels in love with the lively vocal stylings, polished choreography and romantic exchanges exuding from this talented cast. However,  Ms. Donovan’s brilliant performance took us on a journey behind Dolly’s sassy veneer to delve into the emotional complexities of a woman ready to leave behind the painful loneliness of widowhood. Dolly’s longing to rejoin the human race in “Before the Parade Passes By” combined with her solemn pleas for understanding from the memory of her late husband, Ephraim, were true highlights of Ms. Donovan’s multifaceted performance. She extolled her love for this stage and this role stating that she was “...thrilled to be back in Texas at my favorite theaters playing one of the all-time classic roles in theatre history!

The Casa Mana veteran, Mr. David Coffee, gave an emotionally-charged, well-rounded performance of the swaggering widower Horace Vandergelder. This season also has the added distinction of celebrating Mr. Coffee’s a momentous 50-year milestone of performing on the Casa Manana stage!

The orchestra, under the musical direction of Edward G. Robinson, set the perfect backdrop to this venerable musical with performances of such toe-tapping classics as “Put on Your Sunday Clothes,” and “It Only Takes a Moment.” Other noteworthy mentions in this all-star production include Emily Ferranti’s captivating performance of Ms. Irene Molly as well as the exceptional costuming imagined by Tammy Spencer and hair and makeup courtesy of the talented Cat Petty-Rogers.

Jennifer Werner, in her role as both director and choreographer for this outstanding performance, sums up its key elements stating that  “Hello, Dolly!, is the perfect kind of musical that brings you breathtaking production numbers, beautiful music, and gives you a fiercely joyful story that affirms life.

 

If you are in the mood for romance set to a backdrop of high-energy song and dance, do not miss your chance to experience Hello, Dolly!, which runs September 8-16th at Casa Manana located at 3101 W. Lancaster Ave. Fort Worth, TX, 76107. Visit them at http://www.casamanana.org/ or call (817) 332-2272 to reserve a seat and learn more about the exciting lineup of shows they have in store for residents of Dallas-Fort Worth during the 2018-2019 season.