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THEATRE REVIEW - Hello Dolly!, Open Air Theatre

If the ‘barbecue’ summer is ruining your staycation then you could do a lot worse than pack up the brood and head down to the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park for Hello Dolly!
THEATRE REVIEW - Hello Dolly!, Open Air Theatre
If the ‘barbecue’ summer is ruining your staycation then you could do a lot worse than pack up the brood and head down to the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park for Hello Dolly! I am not usually a fan of musicals but there is something irresistible about Tim Sheader’s production of this erstwhile Broadway favourite about an irrepressible widow turned matchmaker. Samantha Spiro is excellent in the title role; combining charisma, wit and a dash of vulnerability: it is impossible not to care what becomes of her as she trills and twirls her way through her efforts to land grumpy, half-a-millionaire storekeeper Horace Vandergelder. Much of the humour comes from the antics of Vandergelder’s downtrodden underlings, Cornelius Hackl (Daniel Crossley)and Barnaby Tucker (Oliver Brenin), who escape their servitude for a day out in New York, where they fall in love while pretending to be rich and avoiding their irate employer. The choreography, which is excellent throughout, really comes into its own in the city scenes. Peter McKintosh’s simple but versatile set design makes the most of the Open Air Theatre’s deep stage but it is the costumes that really bring 50s New York to London: the ensemble scenes are carried off with panache in a swirl of primary colours The piece is based on a Thornton Wilder play but high drama it ain’t and, if you are looking for something you can stroke your chin to, then stay away. To get the most out of Dolly, you have to let your guard down and go with it – just as Samantha Spiro does. Runs until 12 September.

David Trennery

Tuesday 18 August, 2009

About the author

David Trennery is a free-lance writer.