By Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com
photo: Broadway in Tucson
Exuberant dancers set the show swirling.
If you woke up this morning in a New York state of mind, spin that Billy Joel song and go buy a couple of tickets to “Hello, Dolly!” playing through Sunday in Centennial Hall on the University of Arizona campus.
This traveling show presented by Broadway in Tucson is an A-team production, for sure, with strong performers from top to bottom.
All that onstage talent feels like the real Broadway thing, coupled with expansive sets in bright colors that stretch layers deep to the back of the stage, as well as ladies' gowns filled with flowing ruffles, bows and other elegant detail including some world class bustles – all designed by Santo Loquesto.
Such attention to detail is carried through in the choreography by Warren Carlyle adapted from the orginal by Gower Champion. In fact, the company's 12-member dance team stole the show from the singers and stars.
That epic action scene in Act Two at the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant that sets up the actual “Hello, Dolly!” number, with crisply dressed waiters performing acrobatic manueuvers with trays full of plates and saucers, stopped the show with several minutes of eager applause.
To tell you the truth, Carolee Carmello's gowned entrance as Dolly Levi at the top of a bright red staircase felt a little anti-climactic. And the dancers still had two more showcase routines before the next scene.
Carmello did get everyone's attention re-focused on her during the vaudeville-hilarious dinner portion as Dolly proves she has an enormous appetite. Carmello's range of talents provides much to admire.
The iconic role of Dolly the exuberant matchmaker from Yonkers N.Y., is like no other on Broadway, defined since the show opened in 1964 by the likes of Carol Channing, Mary Martin, Pearl Bailey, Barbra Streisand and, most recently, Bette Midler.
Carmello doesn't try to fill any of those shoes. Her Dolly is gracious and resolute. And conniving, for sure. She may not seem larger than life, but she is definitely the sharpest knife in the drawer.
The perpetually grumpy Horace Vandergelder (John Bolton) has one winning quality – his money, that makes him a target for this matchmaker. Being an extremely practical man, as well, Dolly only has to make Horace realize that marrying her is just the practical thing to do.
Meanwhile, we in the audience get to enjoy for 2 1/2-hours a fine production of a Broadway classic.
“Hello, Dolly!” runs through Sunday, Oct. 27 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday, Oct 24-25; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26; 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27.
Tickets are $35-$125. For details and reservations, broadwayintucson.com or 1-800-982-2787.