November 2013

Director Rodger Browne
Musical Director Claire Sweeney
Dance Director Gary Jones-McCaw
Jerry Herman’s matchmaker was presented just how we love to see a Broadway musical BIG. This was a high octane production from the first beat from the M.D to the final curtain.

The creative team pulled out everything from the lib and score. The music went at a fabulous pace as did the dialogue. The choreography captured the essence of the show especially in the “Sunday Clothes” number.

Mrs Levi was given all her attributes by Nicky Mead she drove the piece giving a very effective performance. Nicky is an actress of considerable range.
Vandergelder the business man who likes to spread his money around like manure has to be that little bit larger than life. Barry Dilworth gave a more than creditable characterisation.

Cornelius and Barnaby start out on their big adventure. Gary Jones-McCaw as Cornelius provided a most balanced character taking the audience on his adventure with him. Jack McCaw was in splendid form as the unworldly Barnaby who goes along with everything, but really only wanted to see Barnum’s whale.

The biggest part of their outing to New York was to become acquainted with Irene Molloy and Minnie Fay. Both Sarah Thewlis and Amelia Cunliffe got under the skin of their characters. The four of them worked well together and the “Elegance” number came across showing their new found interest in each other.

Molly-Mae France as the crying Ermengarde and Matt Campbell had fun with the “Strictly” dance competition.

The much awaited “Hello Dolly” number had all the razzmatazz and the audience were not let down. The men’s ensemble has to be mentioned for their versatility and exuberance they communicated.

Everyone in this large cast contributed to the delightfully splendidly worked Jerry Herman iconic musical.

SOCIETY: Stockport Operatic Society
PRODUCTION: Hello, Dolly!

Review By: Kevin Proctor – NODA NW, District 1

It’s shows like these which I consider to be ‘real’ musicals …a brassy orchestra, mounds of Broadway charm, plenty of humour, colourful full company dance numbers and a happy ending! …right up my street! Based on Thornton Wilder’s “The Matchmaker” and featuring music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, this musical tells the story of Dolly Gallagher Levi, a widow pursuing the single “half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder . As she tries to catch him, she also entangles herself in the love lives of some of his workers with hilarious and heart-warming happenings.

The title role of Dolly Levi requires certain attributes that are incredibly rare in any one performer these days – not only does she have to carry the entire show on her shoulders (as if that’s not enough pressure), she has to freight train her way through the show with endless punch and energy, has to belt out a few big tunes, it’s vital she makes the audience love her, be an expert comedienne and …..look stunning while doing so!

Nicky Mead sparkled in this role! She, as she should, owned the show with a bucket load of charisma, her take on the iconic scene where the impervious Dolly continues to stuff her face as her friends stand trial was a vaudevillian masterpiece! For me, Nicky’s effortless performance made this show.

The choreography by Gary Jones McCaw was nothing short of show-stopping architecture that stood as a proud salute to the original style made famous by Gower Champion which – of course – makes this show so visually memorable and recognisable. Gary’s dancers’ performances did him credit and he clearly hadn’t given any of them easy alternatives or compensations, a very fortunate choreographer in this game has a cast who evidently work hard to deliver a vision to this degree.

A big nod to the Director, Roger Browne, as I found it impressive how the younger members of the cast had adopted the older style of performance – It’s easy to dress someone in a wig and/or costume to suggest a genre but this was taken a step further, the actors postures and physicality was stylised and even the rhythm of speech and pronunciation of certain words when delivering lines was so accurate to this style of show – it was just like watching an old American film, this was a great result from fine tuning attention to detail and paid homage to the genre of the piece.

Sarah Thewlis played Miss. Malloy – a part which can often come across as a bit ‘wet’ – Sarah refused to deliver this role anywhere remotely close to ‘damp’. She brought the humour out of the role which was equally balanced with the characters dreamy nature, a very enjoyable performance. Gary Jones McCaw also took the role of Cornelius which was delivered with heaps of slapstick energy to begin with which was turned around beautifully for a gentle ‘Only Takes A Moment’ which was the cherry-on-top of his portrayal.

Jack McCaw was perfectly cast as Barnaby, a very likeable actor on stage who didn’t over force his performance to present a ‘caricature’ representation, which is how this part is commonly done. Jack delivered a very natural and easy act which was precise and gratifying. The orchestra sounded broad and delivered the score with accuracy, under the steadfast direction of Claire Sweeney.

We all know the difficulty when working with the awkward Plaza stage, though I cannot ignore that the set was the greatest flaw towards the overall presentation of the production – the set did look tired and the cloths didn’t stretch the width of the stage but I appreciate the difficulty it is to find scenery that’ll work (and fit) in this venue. The sound operator missed a few queues (but only a few) though unfortunately, they were all Dolly’s! Overall, this was a very enjoyable show which the society should be immensely proud of! Congratulations! …Bring on 42nd Street (a personal favourite). Can’t Wait!