Warm Opening of “Hello Dolly!” at Playhouse

Megan Grantham, Business & Finance Editor

On the crisp fall evening of Tuesday, Oct. 5, many Clevelanders made their way to the Connor Palace at Playhouse Square for a night of laughter and entertainment by the cast of the touring production of “Hello Dolly.”

Although the show first premiered on Broadway in 1964, the humour and timeless story were still just as enjoyable 54 years later.

The comedic musical centers around the effervescent widow Dolly Gallagher Levi, who makes her living by meddling in other people’s business and faces the task of finding a wife for the grumpy half-a-millionaire Horace Vandergelder.

Other characters include the eccentric pairing of Cornelius Hackle and Barnaby Tucker, employees of Vandergelder’s who sneak a day off of work and go to New York City in search of an adventure, eventually finding just that in Mrs. Irene Malloy and her quirky friend Minnie Fay.

What made this particular production extra special was that it featured seasoned Broadway star Betty Buckley as the title character.

Exciting energy was in the air as the orchestra began playing the the upbeat tune of the overture promptly at 7:30 p.m.

After singing nearly an entire song about the titular character, three beautifully outfitted women were carted out, holding newspapers to hide their faces. After two dropped their newspapers to reveal their faces– perfectly in sync to the beat to the music– the third and final woman lowered her newspaper to be the one and only Betty Buckley.

After an uproarious applause, Miss Buckley began belting out the notes of her song “I Put My Hand In.”

For being a 71-year-old that spent much of her life performing, she sounded incredibly lively, and her singing voice sounded nearly identical to her younger self on acclaimed cast recordings of previous Broadway productions.

Standout moments of the show included the opening of the second act, with the instrumental anthem “The Waiters’ Gallup.”  The song was so full of hilarity, intense choreography and vivacious movement that upon the song’s ending, the audience applauded for nearly a minute, while the dancers basked in the reward of the clearly challenging yet spectacular work.

The following song was perhaps the highlight of the entire musical. Betty Buckley appeared for the first time in Act 2, in a sparkling floor-length red dress, complete with a shiny headpiece, and descended a staircase center-stage singing the show’s feature song of “Hello, Dolly!”, accompanied by a chorus of waiters.

Another purposeful element of the show was the meaning of the story. One of the show’s taglines was said by character Irene Malloy, who was going to a citywide parade with her newfound love interest Cornelius Hackle, and said to Dolly “Isn’t the world full of wonderful things?”

Yes, Irene Malloy, the world is full of wonderful things, an adage that many need to remind themselves of more often.

Many audience members will fondly remember the hilarious and heartwarming evening of music and laughter as one of the very wonderful things the world has to offer.