Its hard to criticize a popular musical like Hello Dolly! Its also hard to criticize the genius and patience of Chetco Pelican Players director Leanne McCurley.
When a play is well done like this production is, a reviewer may find himself closing his notebook and enjoying the play. More than enjoying the play comes the thrill of seeing the enjoyment on the faces of those in the audience. Its also apparent that the 34 actors and actresses from Brookings-Harbor, Crescent City and Gasquet were enjoying themselves.
Bring the entire family. This play is definitely for general audiences. There are laughs throughout, and maybe even a few words of wisdom interspersed in the dialogue and lyrics.
This play does not lack strong singers. Unlike previous musicals, everyone can sing.
Its not a perfect play. It has its technical glitches, some from human error and others because of the limitations of the Performing Arts Center stage. Regardless, it seems most of the glitches deal with curtains and the timing of the lights.
Saturday nights performance was marred by a partially opened curtain and a stagehand coming out to make a scene change while the lights were still on. It also had a lack of curtains on stage left, causing a member of the audience to point to an actress offstage who was going up the stairs. Ironically, all this happened before and during the same scene.
One more problem with the production, people should be aware of is limited seating. At Saturdays performance, about a third or more of the auditoriums seats were reserved. People who wish to see the play should get tickets early or make reservations. This play is bound to be a sell-out.
Comments overheard included a statement that Mary Trailor is the perfect Dolly. Maybe its typecasting? another person said. It seems she is cast once again as the widow who speaks to her dead husband, and who will do anything to get her man. However, this time she is not the Widder Black from the Calamity Gulch melodramas. This time she plays a character with more class.
Dolly wont bend over backwards to get what she wants, but she does have the right business card. The character offers almost everything in services. However, her forte is matchmaking. Her goal is Horace Vandergelder, owner of a hay and feed store.
Vandergelder is played by Bill Smith. Smith, an Episcopal priest, gets to play a Presbyterian. He plays the part well.
The character is determined to get married again. He has a date with the widow Mrs. Malloy (Dori Frost) in New York City. He leaves his store in the trusted hands of Barnaby and Cornelius (David Atwood and Joel Bree, respectively), but they sneak out for a day on the town themselves.
Frost plays the millner who hates hats. She is determined to leave New York. She and her assistant Minnie Fay (Christa Atwood) go crazy over the sight of any man who may come into the shop.
Who should show up just before Vandergelder is supposed to meet Mrs. Malloy? Barnaby and Cornelius. Their attempts at hiding from Vandergelder in the hat shop are hilarious. Not only do the two young men bring laughs in the hat shop, but they bring laughs taking dance lessons. Bree and David Atwood resemble puppets on stage with their loose movements.
Dolly manages to steer Vandergelder away from Mrs. Malloy using Ernestina (April Kinney) as a pawn. When Mrs. Malloy finds out Vandergelder is going out with Ernestina, she accepts an offer to go out with Cornelius. Minnie Fay chooses to go out with Barnaby. During the remainder of the play, the audience may appreciate how well sister and brother Christa and David Atwood work together.
Again Cornelius and Barnaby attempt to hide from Vandergelder when they and their dates are at the most expensive restaurant in New York City. This causes more laughs.
It is in this restaurant scene where Dolly descends the staircase with the waiters singing the title song.
Maybe this is another glitch, or maybe its just a male reviewers personal taste. There are men who make terrible looking women, and in this play there are a couple of females who make terrible looking waiters. Seeing Allison Towers and Brieanna Wilson dressed as men is a waste of natural beauty. Its nice that both have feminine roles in other scenes. Towers looks like a princess playing a court reporter and Wilson looks great in her red dress as a townsperson.
Other characters in the play include Tarah Dougherty as crybaby Ermengarde; Cameron Shaff as Ambrose Kemper; Jane-Ann Phillips as Mrs. Rose; King Price as Rudolph Reisenweber, the head waiter; Ron Lewis, Keith Johnson, Ron LaThorpe, Adam Van Cleave, Brandon Phillips and Justin Cartwright as the waiters; Brandon Calkins, Brighton Hall and Brandon Phillips as the policemen; Rick DeHaven as the judge; and Dylan Wise as the paperhanger.
Townspeople include Dianna Cartwright, Paige Cramond, Lauren Frost, Debra Hirjak, Marj Nygowski, Brianna Rose, Jamie Shown, Laila Shyrock, Burl Stonum, Christina Voight and Rebecca Wise.
Marcia Hootman performs all the music on keyboard, served as music director and along with David Godino, provided music tapes. Live music is so much nicer in a musical than taped music.
Assisting McCurley and Hootman is Stonum. Artistic director is Michael Fox. Jason Cartwright handled the lights and sound.
Make-up was done by Roxanne VanCamp and Kinney. Dori Frost designed the costumes, which were sewn by Charise Atwood, Lyda Atwood, Nancy Carson, Dianna Cartwright, Cheryl Grear, Diane Heron, Joyce Roberts, Voight, Wilson and Becky Zweifel. Hat makers were Lyda Atwood and cast.
The set was designed by McCurley and Larry Bacon. Bacon also painted the murals. The mural depicting Vandergelders shop had a nice touch. Each actors name was a brand name on the stock boxes. Although trying to see what each name was a brand of was distracting.
It was built and painted by Christa and David Atwood, Bacon, Jason Cartwright, Lace Daley, Dougherty, Andy Drago, Lee Goode, Carl Herman, Hirjak, Kaitlin Lawrence, Adam Lee, Lewis, Jane-Anne Phillips, Rose, VanCleave and Wilson.
Art Dingle is responsible for publicity. Beatrice Drago is the historian and Helen Griffin runs the snack bar.
Tickets for this production are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Tickets may be purchased at Morys, Words and Pictures, Copy-All, Chetco Pharmacy and Gifts, Prudential Insurance, at the door 45 minutes before showtime or in advance by calling the theater at (541) 469-1857.