Betty Buckley Lights Up the Stage in Hello Dolly!

Betty Buckley & Hello, Dolly! National Tour Company
If the idea of a Hello, Dolly! revival feels a bit dated, there’s nothing that spruces it up quite like having a bonafide Broadway superstar take on the title role. And Miami theatergoers are among the immensely lucky audiences to have the opportunity to see stage legend Betty Buckley in the iconic lead role at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

Hello, Dolly! revolves around Dolly Levi (Buckley), a matchmaker who makes a living by, in her own words, “meddling.” Dolly has been hired to find a match for the grumpy “half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder (Lewis J. Stadlen). But little does he know that Dolly has the perfect match for him: herself. As Dolly, Horace, and Horace’s charming-yet-rambunctious store clerks Cornelius Hackl (Nic Rouleau) and Barnaby Tucker (Jess LeProtto) head to New York, one thing is for certain: none will make it out without a brand-new romance of their own.

One of the lovely things about seeing a classic show like Hello, Dolly on stage is the reverence that’s in the air for the production before it even starts. This much was clear from the very start of the show, which opens with the orchestra playing a medley of the Broadway favorite’s most beloved tunes: “Put On Your Sunday Clothes”, “When the Parade Passes By”, “Dancing”, and of course, the title number. It’s easy to forget how many wonderful songs this show has brought us, and they’re all done justice here. When the song “Hello, Dolly” finally came on, the audience burst into applause when the title words were finally spoken, as Buckley gracefully made her way across the stage in a sparkling red number that would instantly perk up any audience member that was feeling fatigued by the show’s lengthy runtime.

Taking place in the late 19th century, Hello, Dolly! is undeniably old fashioned, both in style and theme. But there was some fun to be had at acknowledging the societal changes since the show’s inception. When Dolly directly addresses the audience and says, “Marriage is a bribe to make a housekeeper think she’s a householder,” the audience collective ohhed, which Buckley met with a playful hand gesture and wink. As a lead, it doesn’t get much better than Ms. Buckley. She’s funny, energetic, and — perhaps most notably – open and vulnerable. It doesn’t hurt that her rich voice feels tailor-made to sing Jerry Herman’s classic songs, either.

At 2 hours and 15 minutes and with one too many subplots, there’s a point when it seems the show may be just about to overstay its welcome. But with colorful costumes, elaborate set designs, and impeccable choreography, you’ll find it hard to care.

The Hello, Dolly! revival will thrill theater goers at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach December 11th through the 16th. Tickets are available for purchase.

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