“DULOG’s Hello, Dolly! will woah you with the talent and marvel it has on display”

Hello, Dolly! at the Gala Theatre welcomes audiences to a night of matchmaking, splendour, and escapist fun. This classic musical takes the stage with all the glitz, glam and slickness that has come to be expected from this annual DULOG performance, with a gentle charm that is sure to delight audiences over the course of it’s run. 

Directors, Jennifer Lafferty, and Alexandra Hart present clear and subtle vision when it comes to the overarching feel to the performance. Their effort and precision do not go amiss, as the stage comes to life no matter the size of cast on stage; from small two person numbers to whole cast scenes and dances, hardly any time is wasted, and no space is spared. If I were to critique any part of the direction it would be the build up to the resolution of Dolly’s main conflict, which doesn’t entirely feel earnt. That said, the second half of Hello, Dolly! undoubtedly raises the bar with every song. 

The moments where Dolly (played by Flo Lunnon) delivers heartfelt monologues directed towards her late husband, feel moving and deliberately acted and directed to stir the emotion of the audience. From the moment Lunnon walks on stage, her role as the headstrong, clever (and somewhat meddling) protagonist immediately has the audience on her side. Lunnon is simply marvellous in her role, reaching above and beyond the vocal agility required, and particularly shining in the title song.

Sam Jones and Stephen McLoughlin as Cornelius and Barnaby are especially superb as a comedic duo, not without their touching moments. Their endearing characterisation, and exquisite harmonies working in matrimony with, Musical Director, Monty Milner’s band during ‘Put On Your Sunday clothes’, and Jones’ beautiful rendition of ‘It Only Takes a Moment’ do deserved justice to these show tune favourites. 

Furthermore, the use of accent is generally well done throughout; however, the inclusion of the waiter’s German accent felt quite outdated and stereotypical. Furthermore, some actors’ American accents do also make it difficult to understand entirely what is being said at times. For the most part, however, Hello, Dolly! makes for a very easy to follow watch to calm mid-term university stress. 

The band also do well to craft the satisfying magic of this show, letting each crisp crescendo soar brightly as the ensemble or solo singer shows off their vocal talent. They expertly underscore Daisy Allen and Hannah Lydon’s expert choreography. The work of the dance ensemble in ‘So Long Dearie’ is a perfect example of the fun that these choreographers have with the talented cast they have at their disposal. At times there are scene transitional moments that do feel awkwardly placed (for example, when the cast exit between songs marching in silence), however these do not necessarily overshadow the creativity in big ensemble numbers, such as the splendid use of parasols. Perhaps some of the smaller group numbers could have included more inventive and imbedded inclusion of props (such as brooms) into the choreography to really amp up the wonder of the whole production.

The wonderful lighting design frames numbers and scenes perfectly. The lighting looks especially gorgeous during “Before the Parade Passes Me By”. Production Manager, Emily Rose Jupe, clearly runs a well-oiled machine that sees the team through start to finish. Complements must also be paid to the stunning costume worn by every member of the cast (as well as stage crew even sporting period appropriate clothes!) Dolly’s second act red dress and head-piece are especially breath-taking. 

Overall, DULOG’s Hello, Dolly! is a musical that will woah you with the talent and marvel it has on display. The dedication and hard work behind this production is visible from the get-go and shows some of the best of what Durham’s musical theatre scene has to offer when a production has the opportunity to go wild in a venue such as Gala. 

By Molly Knox

Hello Dolly is performing at the Gala Theatre until the 12th February

Photo Credits: DULOG