by Julia Doerr
One of the best songs in “Hello, Dolly” asserts that “It Only Takes a Moment” to fall in love. The assertion must be true, because it didn’t take much longer than that to fall in love with the enthusiastic production of that musical now playing at the Lincoln Community Playhouse. Perfect it was not, but it was good enough to make two and a half hours seem to pass in a flash. The entire cast knew their stuff—their lines, their dance steps, and their music—and delivered it with aplomb. In particular, the lively pacing kept things moving with nary a dull second and demanded much energy from the Ensemble who seemed delighted to expend it. The delight was infectious; both cast and audience appeared to be having an evening of genuine good fun.
Laura Lynn Horst, in her Lincoln Community Playhouse debut, was a strong Dolly, believable as the woman who can manage virtually anything and has the collection of business cards to prove it. She had the stage presence and the singing voice to anchor a show that would certainly fail without her, no matter how fine the supporting cast. Her soliloquies, in which Dolly addresses her late husband, were genuinely moving. With luck, LCP audiences will see more of Horst.
Bruce Hahn, as Horace Vandergelder, Dolly’s…um, love?… interest, was the perfect curmudgeon and very funny indeed. Also noteworthy were the good performances of some secondary characters. Alex Rownd as the gangly, awkward, and very young Barnaby Tucker, showed a talent for physical comedy that fit the role perfectly. Kaia Anderson as the equally young Minnie Fay showed an irrepressible spirit that shone through her acting, singing, and dancing.
The best couple of the evening were Cornelius and Irene, played by Sam Ninegar and Soren Tobey. The pair was well matched in fine acting and singing skills and generally very appealing. Tobey is another actress making her LCP debut in this show, and hopefully another who will return to this stage.
The choreography for the show was excellent and the dancers of the Ensemble were well rehearsed. This was especially evident in the Act II sequence of dancing waiters, which was highly entertaining in spite of the waiter’s uneven dancing abilities.
Two of the best musical numbers were “It Takes a Woman” and the always rousing “Before the Parade Passes By.” The former delights with its all-male perspective on the perfect 1890s wife and is quite well performed by Hahn, Ninegar, Rownd and the men of the Ensemble. It occurs early in Act I and sets up the notion that Horace Vandergelder is more in want of an unpaid housekeeper than a wife, a fact of which Dolly is quite well aware, begging the question why Dolly is even a little bit interested in him.
The latter number, “Before the Parade Passes By,” ends Act I with a flourish that emphasizes Dolly’s determination to exit widowhood and enter life’s crowded stage anew. It may even outshine the Act II finale in its power, though nothing is lacking there either.
This appealing production of “Hello, Dolly” runs through the end of September and is well worth seeing. You will have fun.
Julia Doerr is a retired high school English teacher with a lifelong love of plays, both as literature and performance. She assisted, as dramaturg, with the direction of several Shakespeare plays during her tenure at Lincoln High School, where she spent 27 of her 33 years teaching. Julia loves to attend the theater, to write, and to share her opinions. That makes writing reviews her dream assignment.