This is certainly one of the greatest musicals of all time, yet in this vaguely uncertain production with superficial performances from several of the principals, it has little room to expand into its full glory.
Chris Moreno’s heart is certainly in the right place, but a little more finesse would not have gone amiss. The lack of this particular quality, essential in this of all musicals, is apparent - from the creased ribbons hanging from Mrs Molloy’s hat to Anita Dobson’s (Dolly Levi) Bronx Yiddish accent, which slips continually, while much more work is needed on her singing technique.
Carol Channing, as I remember, had elegance along with a great deal of that elusive stage appeal Americans call “moxy” - I found little of that here.
The scenes in the Yonkers dry goods store need re-adjusting. The actors are squeezed into corners of the set up flights of stairs which look (and probably are) uncomfortable, and where was the black gauze which highlights the actors so well for Put On Your Sunday Clothes? Here we were left in Vandergelder’s store and the number lost emphasis accordingly.
The costumes are bright and colourful, although no designer is credited, and a good set of dancers wear them well and bring the life of a new generation to the stronger company pieces, particularly Call On Dolly.
Darren Day (Cornelius Hackl) does his best with an unrewarding role. Meanwhile Hamilton Sargent’s Barnaby Tucker is a sheer delight. And when Amanda Salmon(Minnie Fay) abandons high-pitched screaming and pig-like snorts to express delight, her credibility will improve overnight.
In the second act show stopper Dolly comes down the big staircase adorned in a black boa used for mourning dress in this period. I also noticed Harmonia Gardens’ grand staircase was a light bulb short - somehow it seemed to say something.