Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Hello, Dolly!
National Tour
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's reviews of Falsettos and A Doll's House, Part 2

Betty Buckley and Lewis J. Stadlen
Photo by Julieta Cervantes
Dolly Gallagher Levi has come to Washington and, in the person of Betty Buckley, she's gutsy, straightforward, and dead-on in both her singing and her comedy.

This is a busy summer for Broadway tours at the Kennedy Center: the first-class touring production of Hello, Dolly! has arrived in the Opera House while Falsettos is playing next door in the Eisenhower Theater. (Coming up: Disney's Aladdin in the Opera House and The Band's Visit and Dear Evan Hansen in the Eisenhower.)

The tour may be a bit smaller in scope than the revival that dazzled Broadway in 2017-2018, but the cast is still immense (more than 30 performers), Warren Carlyle's choreography is as on point as ever, and Jerry Zaks' direction still crackles. Santo Loquasto's period-setting scenic design—with its gold-trimmed red velvet curtain, chaser lights around an arched proscenium, and backdrops painted to resemble 19th-century postcards—fits the space well, and Loquasto's rainbow of costumes keep things lively.

One thing about an iconic role like Dolly is seeing how a specific performer will make it her own. Bette Midler had humor and chutzpah, Bernadette Peters was achingly tender, Donna Murphy surprisingly funny (for viewers who know her for her serious roles). Buckley's Dolly is a straight shooter who doesn't care if the people she's manipulating realize what she's doing, which leads to the crackling scenes between her and old pro Lewis J. Stadlen as curmudgeonly Horace Vandergelder.

Nic Rouleau, boyish with a gleaming smile, and gawky Sean Burns are adorable as Cornelius and Barnaby, Vandergelder's put-upon clerks, well matched with elegant Analisa Leaming as Irene Molloy, Vandergelder's supposed fiancée, and dithering, bespectacled Kristen Hahn as her assistant, Minnie Fay. Colin LeMoine shows off his long-legged dancing as Ambrose Kemper, who wants to marry Vandergelder's niece Ermengarde (Morgan Kirner in a role that mostly allows her to cry and whimper).

The large ensemble means that Carlyle's production numbers dazzle with color and movement. The citizens of Yonkers invade Vandergelder's store and, later, posture in their Sunday clothes, the solo introspection of "Before the Parade Passes By" shifts into a robust parade scene, and the waiters of the Harmonia Gardens are as impressive as ever as they juggle trays of food, fence with meat skewers, and balance increasingly high stacks of plates, all building up to the inevitable moment when Dolly, in her jeweled red gown and plumed headdress, makes her grand entrance.

Kennedy Center
Hello, Dolly!
June 4th - July 7th, 2019
Music and lyrics by Jerry Herman
Book by Michael Stewart
Based on the play The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder
Dolly Gallagher Levi: Betty Buckley
Ambrose Kemper: Colin LeMoine
Horace Vandergelder: Lewis J. Stadlen
Ermengarde: Morgan Kirner
Cornelius Hackl: Nic Rouleau
Barnaby Tucker: Sean Burns
Minnie Fay: Kristen Hahn
Irene Molloy: Analisa Leaming
Mrs. Rose: Beth Kirkpatrick
Ernestina: Jessica Sheridan
Rudolph: Wally Dunn
Stanley: Scott Shedenhelm
Judge: Timothy Shew
Court Clerk: Daniel Beeman
Townspeople, Waiters, etc.: Maddy Apple, Daniel Beeman, Giovanni Bonaventura, Elizabeth Broadhurst, Darius Crenshaw, Julian DeGuzman, Alexandra Frohlinger, Dan Horn, Corey Hummerston, Madison Johnson, Beth Kirkpatrick, Ben Lanham, Kyle Samuel, Scott Shedenhelm, Timothy Shew, Maria Cristina Slye, Cassie Austin Taylor, Davis Wayne, Brandon L. Whitmore, Connor Wince
Directed by Jerry Zaks
Choreography by Warren Carlyle
Opera House, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC
Ticket Information: (800) 444-1324 or (202) 467-4600 or
For more information on the tour, visit