Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Hello, Dolly! -- Old Favorite Is Better This Time at the Hanna

Cleveland Press November 14, 1967

You keep telling yourself that there is no logical reason why "Hello, Dolly!" should be the major hit that it is; that there are better musicals enjoying far less success.

Trouble is that "Dolly" defies logic especially, once you are in the theater. Sure, it has only one song that stays with you -- but what a song and what a production number!

Anyway, logic is being defied again this week at the Hanna Theater where the durable show had its third Cleveland opening last night. And it was the same crowd pleaser as before.

THIS TIME AROUND it is Ginger Rogers as Dolly, her hat almost as wide as the stage, all dressed in red, sashaying down that big staircase in the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant with all those dancing waiters around while the orchestra slowly plays the first insinuating notes of the show's title tune.

This still is the production directed and choreographed by Gower Champion and it bears the stamp of his genius from the smallest bits of stage business to some of the biggest, gaudiest and most intricate production numbers ever put together.

Ginger Rogers is an energetic Dolly Gallagher Levi, the irrepressible matchmaker who saves the wealthiest match for herself. She invests the role with a few tricks of her own. She is a fast, nimble talking Dolly.

It is a bit of a kookie interpretation, broadly comic, never mind the subtleties and sometimes given to over gesturing.

IN THE PRODUCTION NUMBERS she is a high-kicking Dolly, not unmindful of her still good looking legs.

She acts the role with a broad smile, sometimes talks out of the side of her mouth, more often plays to the audience than to the other performers.

The company is a strong one with Coley Worth a wonderful Horace Vandergelder sounding a little like a fast talking medicine man.

Bill Mullikin is a pleasant and full-voiced Cornelius Hackl and Mary Nettum an attractive and pleasant Irene Molloy.

ISABELLE FARRELL is wonderfully delightful as her scatterbrain assistant.

One tremendous advantage this production has over the previous two is that it is playing in the Hanna instead of the twice-as-large Music Hall. Sight and sound are far better.

Miss Rogers, in spite of the generally good sound system in the Hanna, chose to use a transistorized microphone hidden in her costume. This is not unusual and would have been all right except that it was erratic in volume last night and sometimes gave a tinny quality to her songs.