Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
Feinstein's at the Hotel Nikko has tried something new with a recent concert version of Hello, Dolly!. Joseph Wicht got together some very talented local singer/actors to sing the Jerry Herman score. He also cast the gifted Darlene Popovic as narrator. She not only gave the setup of each scene but some insights into the background of the musical.
The ensemble of eight came stage forward to give a rousing version of "Call on Dolly" as the first song. Wesla Whitfield as Dolly Levi with her gorgeous voice sang "I Put my Hand In" as the first solo. Darlene Popovic then gave the first insight to the audience. Barbra Streisand wanted a new song for the Fox film of version, so Jerry Herman wrote for Ms. Streisand "Just Leave Everything to Me." At the piano, Mike Greensill sang the song in his imitable manner. With his lively vocal chops, Greensill sang as Horace Vandergelder "It Takes a Woman."
Wesla Whitfield sang with thematic resonance "Before the Parade Passes By," "Hello, Dolly!," and "So Long, Dearie" and joined the chorus in a stirring rendition of "Dancing" and "Put On Your Sunday Clothes." Alex Rodriguez as Cornelius Hackl was harmoniously energizing in his renditions of "Put On Your Sunday Clothes," "Dancing," "Elegance," and "It Only Takes a Moment."
Heather Orth as Irene Molloy sang "Ribbons Down My Back," "Dancing," "Elegance," "It Only Takes a Moment" and a song cut from the original that Ethel Merman performed later, "World Take Me Back." Nick Quintell who played Barnaby Tucker was terrific and sang with great gusto. Maureen McVerry joined in as Minnie Fay with her vibrant vocal cords on all of the choral work, and Juliana Lustenader with her effervescent vocal chops joined in as well, including one number not in the show: "Sunflower," which caused a plagiarism lawsuit against composer Jerry Herman and producer David Merrick.
Darlene Popovic also sang "Love, Look in My Window" which was written for Ethel Merman when she stared in the show. She belted out the number with her powerful voice.
Joe Wicht ably assisted on piano with the exception of Mike Greensill who did a spot on version of the Louis Armstrong jazz version of "Hello, Dolly!" with Wesla Whitfield.
The "Hello, Dolly!" concert was presented July 5 through 9, 2016. A concert version of Jerry Herman's Mame will be held August 11 through 13. For a complete line-up at Feinstein's at Hotel Nikko please go to www.feinsteinsatthenikko.com.