"Hello, Dolly!" Says "Hello!" To Oklahoma City This Week!

Whenever a new musical comes through Oklahoma City, I try to take my time to give the soundtrack a listen at least once to make sure that I’m semi-familiar with the music of the show. This week, with Hello, Dolly! debuting at the Civic Center, was no different. As I finished listening to the soundtrack, I wasn’t so sure how much I’d like the show. There’s nothing wrong with the music of the show, but it came across as very “Old Broadway” to me, of which I’m generally not a huge fan. It’s no surprise I felt that way, either, as the show debuted in 1964 when that “Old Broadway” style was in full-swing, not to mention the show itself takes place in New York in 1885. But, I’ll never turn down an opportunity to go to the theatre so I decided to give it a shot and let my review speak for itself.

As I walked into the Civic Center and picked up my program, I was reading a quote from Rolling Stone about the show that ended with “Wow, wow, wow indeed!” I rolled my eyes, thinking that that reaction was a bit over-the-top. I had listened to the music. I knew what I was in for. I didn’t think it was a show that I’d enjoy but would sit through anyway. Wow, was I wrong.

Wow, indeed.

Over the next 2 hours and 45 minutes, I had my mind thoroughly changed by a musical comedy that – if it took itself seriously – would indeed be the boring, eye-rolling affair that I was expecting. Instead, what I got was a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek show that takes the best of “Old Broadway” and marries it with the modern staging of current musicals, all backed by a stellar cast, led by two amazing Broadway veterans. If you’re on the fence about Hello, Dolly!, please allow me to push you off that fence and into the doors of the Civic Center to see this show before it leaves town.

Hello, Dolly! National Tour Company – 2018, Julieta Cervantes

Hello, Dolly! in a lot of ways is a bit of an enigma to me. It’s one of those shows that I’ve always heard about – enough that I was immediately familiar with the name as soon as I heard it was coming to Oklahoma City – but also knew nothing about. I didn’t know the plot and it doesn’t really have any show-stopping numbers that have transcended the Broadway crowd and entered the general-music-knowledge space. In fact, I would argue that even after watching and enjoying the show, that there aren’t any really big stand-out “hits” from the show. Most every song is a big number, with full chorus-line in tow singing and filling the stage in various ways, and hardly any subtle or quiet moments. From the first number to the last, you’re constantly bombarded with big musical numbers.

One of Hello, Dolly!’s biggest strengths, then, is how it manages to not take itself seriously. There’s a lot of exposition done throughout the show via breaking of the fourth wall and talking directly to the audience. The show is self-aware that it has several over-the-top moments and embraces them, which ultimately enhances the funny moments. When given the opportunity, the actors absolutely ham it up but again, it’s all so tongue-in-cheek that it actually works really well and you can tell the actors are having a ton of fun (in fact, during my performance the lead actress cracked and started laughing midway through a song which to me signaled that this cast not only works great together, but they’re loving it the whole time). Speaking of the lead actress, playing Dolly Gallagher Levi is Carolee Carmello, a three-time Tony Award-nominee who has appeared in 14 Broadway musicals. Her counterpart, playing Horace Vandergelder, is John Bolton who is also a Broadway veteran starring in several shows and originating roles in a few of them. The other main actors have either spent time on Broadway as well or been on several national tours. The point is, this is a really amazing cast that’s totally worth checking out. In fact, it may be one of the most seasoned casts I’ve ever seen come through Oklahoma City.

Hello, Dolly! National Tour Company – 2018, Julieta Cervantes

The technical side of the show is great too. The costumes are beautiful, the sets are well done, and the lighting is spot-on. One stand-out aspect of the show too is the choreography. This cast has some of the tightest choreography that I’ve seen, which is good considering the sheer amount of dance and general movement on the stage. Hello, Dolly! pulls no punches when it comes to being in-your-face with the choreography, staging several huge dance numbers that, while a bit old-fashioned, work really well in the context of the show.

In the end, Hello, Dolly! wraps up with a happy ending that’s a little too convenient, but while that doesn’t really work for me in some other shows that are more on the serious-side, it totally does work in Hello, Dolly! While I don’t think the show will be for everyone, I do think everyone will find something to love. If you’re looking for a taste of “Old Broadway” with a modern twist that’s funny, charming, and chock full of hammed-up but great performances, then Hello, Dolly! is the show for you, and will leave you leaving the theatre saying “Wow!”

Wow, indeed.

Hello, Dolly! National Tour Company – 2018, Julieta Cervantes

Hello, Dolly! runs at the Civic Center Music Hall through this Sunday, October 20th. There are plenty of great seats still available, including a limited number of $26 rush tickets to all performances for students, educators, senior citizens, active military personnel, and first responders only. Regular tickets for all remaining performances can also be purchased any time by calling 405-594-8300, by visiting the Civic Center box office Monday – Friday from 10am – 5pm, or by going online to OKCBroadway.com!

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