Hello, Dolly! – Upper Moreland High School in Willow Grove, PA
April 5, 2016
Review by: Mary Liz White of Bordentown Regional High School
Upper Moreland High School’s production of Hello, Dolly! will have you wishing you were an 1890s New York socialite. Michael Stewart and Jerry Herman’s Golden-Age musical, based on a play by Thornton Wilder, is an American standard packed with memorable characters. Highlights of Upper Moreland’s rendition include a committed ensemble, a pretty set, and a capable tech crew—plus, of course, a very formidable leading lady.
Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi is a busybody—and she’s good at it. The musical follows this clever, charismatic widow as she meddles in others’ affairs and averts chaos—and, just maybe, finds love along the way.
As Dolly herself, Maura O’Leary absolutely dominates the stage. She inhabits her character from head to toe with impressive physicality and smooth delivery, and she is perfectly suited to the mature role. In terms of vocals, Hannah Rau turns in a great performance as sweet, nervous Irene Malloy. The male leads are earnest and believable, with Patrick Murt as wealthy stick-in-the-mud Horace Vandergelder, and Scotty Murphy as the adorable, bumbling clerk Cornelius. Some smaller comic roles also stand out—Jessica Stahl, for instance, as the hilarious and unsophisticated Ernestina.
The strongest musical numbers include “Motherhood March”—a rollicking earworm blocked with precision and crammed with great physical comedy—and “It Takes A Woman”—a laughably sexist all-male anthem complete with a broom-wielding kick-line. Though in other scenes the ensemble sometimes feels low-energy, they have a real grip on the choreography and move well as a unit. The cast makes good use of the space on the very wide stage. The slightly sparse but otherwise lovely student-designed set looks its best during the scenes in the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant.
If the ensemble at times feels over-rehearsed, the run crew had a few hiccups but still gets the job done effectively. The sound quality is good, with very few issues, and the same goes for the lighting, which has some nice moments. The show uses a terrific color palette, cultivating a general cohesion between costumes, sets, and lighting.
They’ve got strong comedic timing, thorough knowledge of the show, overall unity, and a darn good Dolly. When you see Upper Moreland’s Hello, Dolly!, you may not want to say goodbye.
Review by: Jack D’Emilio of Conestoga High School
But do we have to say goodbye, Dolly? Upper Moreland High School’s production of Hello, Dolly! truly had audiences never wanting to leave the theater!
With a book by Michael Stewart and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, Hello, Dolly! is based on Thornton Wilder’s 1955 play, The Matchmaker. In its original 1964 Broadway production, the show won a record-setting ten Tony Awards, including a Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for the legendary Carol Channing. The show itself was an unprecedented success, enjoying three Broadway revivals and a 1969 feature film starring Barbra Streisand. Hello, Dolly! is also expecting another Broadway revival next year, with Bette Midler in the titular role.
The Upper Moreland ensemble cast engaged the audience with the brightest of smiles, never once losing the energy they had from the moment the curtain opened. “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” was a standout number for the ensemble, as they truly rose to the occasion and brought out the best of the classic that is Hello, Dolly! The entire cast proved to be truly accomplished performers, as well as entertaining ones to watch.
In the title role, Maura O’Leary lived up to the greats that have performed the role before her. With every lightning fast quip, O’Leary had the audience wrapped around her finger. Patrick Murt (Horace Vandergelder) also had the audience laughing with every line, deftly handling the softer side of the character toward the end, playing opposite O’Leary in a most wonderful way.
The supporting cast was also definitely wonderful in every way, from the side-splitting Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker (Scotty Murphy and Brian Herrmann) to the elegant Irene Malloy and Minnie Fay (Hannah Rau and Maddy Rafferty). These four showcased the best parts of their characters with well-timed humor, and a beautiful aspect of love as well, like when Murphy’s rendition of “It Only Takes A Moment” had the audience head over heels.
The set was wonderfully colorful, and the stage management crew handled the transitions with ease. The professionalism displayed by the crew overall is certainly worthy of praise, as every scenery change went off without a single hitch.
There’s nothing I’d like to do more than say hello again to Hello, Dolly! at Upper Moreland High School one more time.