Reviewed by Fiona Bessey-Bushnell
This was my first musical production at the Weinstein Jewish Community Center, and I wasn’t disappointed on opening night of Hello, Dolly! A Jewish Family Theatre (JFT) production, at the Sara Belle November Theatre at the Weinstein JCC, Hello, Dolly! was directed and choreographed by Debra Clinton.
They pulled out all the stops with intricately choreographed numbers, fancy costumes, and great talent. The show is set in New York in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Costume and set design is true to the period, but don’t be surprised if you see a few modern adaptations.
The star of the show, Ruth Zimm-McMahon as Dolly, took on this powerful role as if it were written for her. Dolly has a way of smooth talking like nobody’s business, and making everything her business. A testament to Zimm-McMahon’s acting talent, her Dolly comes off as expert at meddling, yet likable. Although matchmaking is her second job, she peddles herself to other townsfolk for everything from being a dance teacher to a masseuse. And with a few modern script twists, even boasts her talents as being able to make “pierced ears re-plugged.” Her strong voice carried well on solos, as well as numbers with the rest of the cast. Although her hat was appropriately larger than life, at times it obscured her face and made it difficult for the audience to see her expression.
Fred Kaufman, playing Horace Vandergelder, the town’s proprietor and rich, miserly bachelor, played a believable, yet endearing grouch. At times exasperated with Dolly’s spirit, yet, ultimately smitten, it’s a joy to see his emotions and personality transform. Emily Blair Powers showcased a beautiful voice, as the town’s milliner, Irene. She was radiant in both her hat-shop dress, and her refined gown. Befittingly, she wore the prettiest hats in the show! Minnie as her assistant, played by Kate Belleman, delivered a dynamic and enthusiastic performance.
Worsham Abbott as Cornelius, the bumbling, yet lovable head clerk at Mr. Vandergelder’s store, was a treat, and the talented Jason Campbell played the naïve Barnaby, Cornelius’ assistant.
The cast boasts a huge ensemble and at one point I was on the edge of my seat hoping nobody would fall off the stage, there were so many cast members singing and dancing. Not to worry, they were on top of it! The most impressive number with the company was “The Waiter’s Gallop,” when wait staff pirouetted, twirled, and high-kicked it, complete with twirling waiter’s towels and trays, as they were expected to be the fastest waiters in town at the swanky Harmonia Gardens. It was a very lively and spirited scene, highlighting the cast’s talent. Jonathan Brown and Jessica Meyer were clear stand-outs in the ensemble. The production runs two-and-a-half hours, including intermission.
Saturday, December 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 15 at 2 p.m., December 18, 19, and 21 at 7:30 p.m.,
December 22 at 2 p.m.
$10 for members; $15 for non-members; $8 seniors, students and groups of 10 or more. Convenient parking at this family-friendly venue on Monument Avenue. Chanukah dinner and show: Wednesday, December 18, 6 p.m. dinner, 7:30 p.m. show.
Visit Hello Dolly « Weinstein JCC for tickets and details.