Hello Dolly! – Springside Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia, PA
December 14, 2015
Review submitted by Eli Russell of Abington Friends School.
Put on your Sunday clothes and come see Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s production of Hello, Dolly! The cast at SCH Academy brought the classic musical to life, recreating its old-timey aesthetic for a modern audience.
Set in New York City in the 1890s, Hello, Dolly! tells the story of a matchmaker who attempts to match herself to a “half-a-millionaire” and his fortune. The musical won a record ten Tony Awards when it premiered on Broadway in 1964. Half a century and three Broadway revivals later, Hello, Dolly! remains one of the most beloved shows in the American musical theatre canon.
SCH Academy’s production was notable for its slapstick humor, best seen during numbers like “Motherhood March,” and the old-timey feel that permeated the performance, especially the enthralling “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” and the timeless “Hello, Dolly.” Hannah Lebowitz-Lockard starred as Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi, the titular fast-talking and charismatic matchmaker. Lebowitz-Lockard filled the stage with personality at every entrance and demonstrated impressive acting skills during multiple monologues directed towards her late husband, Ephraim Levi.
In the supporting cast, Hudson Smith and Sean Terrey were easy audience favorites for their delightful portrayals of Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker. Terrey particularly nailed the physical energy of his character. The show was enlivened by comedic cameos from Betsy Sheppard (Mrs. Rose), Robert Hass (Rudolph Reisenweber), and the hilarious Maya Jones (Ernestina). Vocal precision and power were persistent issues throughout the show, for both individuals and ensembles, but the cast made up for this with abundant energy and a commitment to acting that exceeded expectations.
The show also succeeded in technical elements. An adept crew quickly transformed the versatile set into an upscale restaurant, a courtroom, and other New York locales. The production was bolstered by a diverse assortment of high-quality props and solid sound and lighting designs.
All in all, the capable cast and crew at SCH Academy put on a strong production of Hello, Dolly! “It Only Takes a Moment” to enjoy this fun, nostalgic, and, of course, elegant piece of theatre.
Review submitted by Carly Goldberg of Phoenixville Area High School
No musical fits the image of a splashy romantic-comedy better than Hello, Dolly!, and Springfield Chestnut Hill Academy’s enthusiastic and heartwarming production certainly did this classic show justice.
Based on a 1955 play titled The Matchmaker, Hello, Dolly! premiered on Broadway in 1964. The widely popular show starred theatre legend Carol Channing in the titular role, with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart. It won ten Tony Awards and inspired a 1969 movie adaption and three Broadway revivals. The film starred Barbra Streisand and received three Academy Awards.
This witty musical details the adventures of Dolly Gallagher Levi, widow and professional meddler. A former New York socialite, Dolly has avoided the limelight after the passing of her husband, Ephraim. She realizes that she wants to remarry, and sets her sights on widower and “half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder. Dolly devises a plan to win his affection, involving his niece, her fiancée, two store clerks, a millinery shop owner, and her assistant.
SCH Academy’s production was carried by Hannah Lebowitz-Lockard as the larger-than-life Dolly. Her stage presence was extremely strong, causing eruptions of applause with each entrance and exit. Lebowitz-Lockard’s charismatic portrayal of Mrs. Levi was complemented by Griffin Banks’ stoic Horace Vandergelder, providing a lovely contrast to the scheming Dolly.
The comedic duo of clerks Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker (Hudson Smith and Sean Terrey, respectively) absolutely stole the show. Their dynamic was well-balanced and thought-out, with each line funnier than the last. Terrey was especially skilled in the physicality of his awkward character, dancing across the stage with the perfect amounts of joy and lack of self-consciousness. Singley Risico as Irene Malloy and Riley Redpath as Minnie Fay were paired together as store owner and assistant, and had a balanced dynamic as well.
Robert Hass’ maitre d’ Rudolph Reisenweber and Betsy Sheppard’s Mrs. Rose both made the most of their limited time onstage, providing creative and original characters. The ensemble did an exceptional job filling out the stage in crowd scenes.
The production’s props contributed to the authenticity of the production, assembled by Props Crew Head Maya Jones, and their costuming was another highlight.
SCH Academy’s Hello, Dolly! did exactly what a musical should do. It was an energetic and charming production, and reinforced the idea that we should all love life and appreciate the opportunities it has to offer.
To read more reviews from this and other Cappies shows, visit the Greater Philadelphia Cappies website: http://www.cappies.com/gpc/Reviews.aspx