Monday, August 10, 2009

Ever since watching Wall-E, I'd been curious about Hello Dolly. If you haven't watched the movie, Put on Your Sunday Clothes and It Only Takes a Moment feature prominently throughout the show, while the musical itself, we learn, is instrumental in making sweet robot Wall-E yearn for love and affection. So when the Open Air Theatre at Regent's Park announced it was putting on a performance of Hello Dolly as part of their summer season, I got right in there and purchased a ticket for this evening, which also happened to be opening night.

And boy am I glad I did! Although it was an open air theatre, the sound was amazing. The band - which to me looked like a five person band - sounded like a full orchestra, and, aside from the time a helicopter passed overhead, I could hear every single word. The cast itself was amazing. Olivier award-winning Samantha Spiro played Dolly, the Jewish New Yorker matchmaker perfectly. Her accent sounded incredibly authentic to these untrained ears of mine. Allan Corduner as Horace Vandergelder played the part of a grumpy, gruff male chauvinist to the hilt. In fact, the interaction between Dolly and Horace reminded me strongly of the relationship between Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady.

The only thing which let opening night down was the weather. It drizzled heavily (you know the kind of drizzle... the kind where it's too light to take out an umbrella but heavy enough that you still end up quite wet) before the show began, and also midway through the second half. Luckily, my colleague loaned me his anorak because, by this time, I was starting to freeze, much like the last time I went to the Open Air Theatre eight years ago. As the stage isn't covered, this meant that the stage got really wet, so wet you could see it glistening, and I began worrying about the dancers. It's not easy to tap dance at the best of times, and, on a wet, potentially slippery surface? Even harder!

Hello Dolly is a good ol' fashioned musical with happy, exuburant songs which just cannot fail to cheer you up. Rather similar to Hairspray, come to think of it. I'd definitely recommend this to any musical-loving person. On top of that, the Open Air Theatre's an experience that every Londoner's got to experience at least once in his or her life!

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