Originally due to play Falkirk Town Hall in 2020, the lights went out just four week prior to the first performance as the pandemic impacted.
But fast forward 24 months, and the company members decided to put all their previous rehearsals to good use and have this as their first post-Covid production.
Those attending opening night were as delighted as the cast to be back watching live performances and gave an enthusiastic welcome to this well-known musical.
Set in New York towards the end of the 19th century, the story centres on matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi and her attempts to arrange marriages. This was in the days before Tinder and internet dating websites, so Dolly is a busy woman. However, she has decided that she will be the next bride for Horace Vandergelder, “the well-known half-millionaire”.
Dolly is a huge role with Carol Sutherland having innumerable lines to learn, songs to sing and dance routines to take part in, but she carries it off with all her usual aplomb. It was fitting that the highlight from her performance was the Hello, Dolly routine where she dances with the waiters – a colourful and entertaining scene.
But then it was all highly entertaining. Graeme Scott and Darren Tasker were responsible for much of the humour as Vandergelder’s two put upon employees, but Graeme’s singing voice, particularly with It Only Takes a Moment, was one of the highlights of the show.
His love interest, Irene Malloy, was wonderfully played by Anne Rice and her rendition of Ribbons Down my Back was one of those pin drop in the auditorium moments.
Hannah Gillies as millinery store assistant Minnie Fay struck a perfect balance in a role that it would easy to overplay, while Rebecca Gillies as the tearful Ermengarde was another of the production’s comic stars, along with her suitor Ambrose Kemper (Andrew Tasker) .
William Cunningham’s experience oozed out of his performance as Vandergelder who was on the hunt for a new wife before eventually falling for Dolly’s charms – only after he side-stepped Susan McFarlane’s Ernestina Money.
Director and choreographer for Hello, Dolly! is Judy Brown – and when Falkirk Operatic last performed this musical 50 years ago her mother, well-known dance teacher Irene Langlands, was responsible for the choreography.
The family talent is obviously in the genes as the Waiter’s Gallop, led by Tom Keeble as Rudolph and the male chorus was one of the show’s special moments.
Working alongside Judy, is musical director Jon-Luke Kirton who has helped the cast bring such a feel-good production to the stage.
Hello, Dolly! is on at Falkirk Town Hall until Saturday, April 30.
Dolly Gallagher Levi – Carol Sutherland; Ernestina Money – Susan McFarlane; Ambrose Kemper – Andrew Tasker; Horace Vandergelder – William Cunningham; Ermengarde – Rebecca Gillies; Cornelius Hackl – Graeme Scott; Barnaby Tucker – Darren Tasker; Irene Malloy – Anne Rice; Minnie Fay – Hannah Gillies; Mrs Rose – Elizabeth Donald; Rudolph – Tom Keeble; Judge – Robert Wardrop.
Ensemble – Dylan Allison, Rebecca Blyth, Niamh Brooks, Ally Brown, Eric Brown, Karen Chambers, Nicola Cowan, Elizabeth Donald, Kyle Gordon, Jennifer Hughes, Fiona Inglis, Grant-Scott Johnson, Susan McFarlane, Marianne Marshall, Steven Smith, Adam Stewart, Leigh-Anne Struthers, Amy Sutherland, Guy Sutherland, Catriona Turk, Robert Wardrop and David Young.