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Newbury Operatic Society - Hello Dolly

29th March to 2nd April 2005.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Galloping success

Newbury Operatic Society: Hello Dolly, at The Corn Exchange, from Tuesday, March 29 to Saturday, April 2

There can be few better qualified to direct the story of Dolly Levi (born Gallagher!) than Anne Bennett who has not only starred in countless Newbury musicals, but has also played the title role.

All seemed set for success – and success followed in bucketloads. This must count as one of the best of the society’s shows in which even minor parts were played by good actors with quality voices.

Let’s start with Sandra Jones as a superb Dolly, whose lovely voice coped well with the demands of Jerry Herman’s score and who brought out every ounce of humour in her speeches. She radiated personality, lighting up the stage in her mission to marry the grumpy rich Horace Vandergelder (Russell Barrett). What a pity that the score does not include more opportunities for duets between these two. Russell is a fine actor with a strong rich voice and the interaction between pursued and pursuer made for excellent entertainment.

Even surpassing these two for audience enjoyment were two chorus numbers; the rumbustious It Takes A Woman had the men’s chorus in gutsy, full-blooded mode and it will be a long time before I forget the Waiters’ Gallop, its intricate choreography by Kate Mayo involving waiters with trays zooming past, napkins aflutter interspersed by some high kicking from both members of the chorus and an excellent quintet of dancers – a really sizzling showstopper.

By contrast the musical voice of Tony Randall, playing Cornelius Hackle, brought sensitivity to the lovely It Only Takes A Moment and he with Tudor Jones (Barnaby Tucker), elegant Zoe Wells (Mrs Molloy) and Jacqui Trumper, bringing more than a touch of the Alice Tinkers to her role as Minnie, made up a lively and slick foursome.

It was good, too, to see old (I hope they’ll forgive me!) stagers such as Sylvia Galbraith, Roger Sinclair and Alan Eggleton performing with gusto – long may they do so.

How long is it since I first saw a very young Michael Evans in charge of the orchestra. The years have passed but his skill as MD remains undiminished. The orchestra played sympathetically, supporting the stage action with beautiful sound.

Well done, Anne Bennett. Well done Newbury Operatic Society. I loved it.