A Jerry Herman Triptych – Hello Dolly!

 This show, perhaps more than any other, exhibits Herman’s absolute compositional and lyrical talent, making Hello Dolly! the perfect finale for the season.

Presented by: Magnormos and Melbourne Recital CentreVenue: Melbourne Recital Centre Monday 18 July, 2011  It was a splendid end to Magnormos’ A Jerry Herman Triptych with their closing performance – the much awarded Hello Dolly! This show, perhaps more than any other, exhibits Herman’s absolute compositional and lyrical talent, making Hello Dolly! the perfect finale for the season. As a ‘concert staged’ presentation the set was minimal, the lighting basic and the leads were able to use a script throughout the show. This however is not to say that they actually did. Rarely was there an occasion that the leading players relied on their scripts, demonstrating the professionalism and ability of these truly capable actors. Neither did the basic staging detract from a wonderful evening of entertainment. Instead, this classic musical thoroughly delighted all theatre devotees in the striking surrounding of the Melbourne Recital Centre.   With whimsical songs and rhythmical numbers, Hello Dolly! has a magical blend of both outstanding vocal requirements and strong dance elements. It is this dynamic combination which renders Hello Dolly! as Jerry Herman’s greatest work. Magnormos did not down play either of these core elements. All cast members relished the melodic Herman tunes and performed all songs with alacrity. They were colourful and entertaining while true to the score’s beautiful arrangements. The choreography was similarly appropriate. It reflected the timeless Broadway show quality that is well loved in the classics of musical theatre.  In particular, the waiters in the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant, emanated refined, polished and professional performance values. This dance scene was well rehearsed and performed with attention to detail, timing, technique and with loads of show-stopping charisma. Some of the other numbers in comparison lacked this finesse. As a whole, the chorus dancers were strong and capable but the unison of some of the group pieces could have been tighter. This was particularly evident in the Fourteenth Street Association Parade, where the whole chorus took to the stage. The choreography here was clear and technical but the execution lacked sharpness and accord and could have been more rehearsed to better the timing. Beyond these minor imperfections the performance as a whole was of a high standard and its entertainment value could not be understated. The audience was certainly charmed and loudly praised the cast after each tune. It was however in the second act, when Dolly stepped on stage in her glittering red evening gown, that the audience erupted into emphatic applause. Susan-Ann Walker, as Dolly, radiated through the auditorium as she broke into the magnificent piece that is the show’s feature song of the same name. As the hansom waiters fawned about her and lauded her in dulcet choral harmony, it was clear that the piece was the show stopper. Choreographed to stylistic uniform perfection and delivered with gusto, it was undoubtedly the highlight of the show. Hello Dolly! was an impressive and  fitting finale to Magnormos’ A Jerry Herman Triptych. Throughout the triptych Magnormos proved itself to be an adaptable and energetic theatre company. Whilst staging costs were clearly limited, raw talent ensured that each of the performances in the triptych was thoroughly captivating. It was an enchanting tribute to a wonderful composer and lyricist.

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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