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Theatre Review (San Diego): Hello Dolly by Stewart and Herman at the Starlight Bowl

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The Starlight Bowl in San Diego has been around since it was originally built for the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935. The structure is basically the same today and seats 4300 people. It has always been the venue for various concerts, but in 1945 The San Diego Civic Light Opera came into being and has been producing a summer of Broadway musicals ever since as The Starlight Musical Theatre.

The company is one of the oldest and longest producing companies in the U.S.A. Its theatre is also known for its “stop and go feature” in which singers, dancers, and musicians freeze when prompted by a led light, because the planes from the local airport cross directly overhead and nothing can be heard above the noise of the jet engine. This fact does not deter, unless you are some sort of purist, and it can even lead to some startling and humorous moments. The freezes certainly didn’t stop the talented ensemble in the current offering of Hello Dolly.

The musical features a new set by Tony Award winning designer John Iacovelli. The show is directed and choreographed by the ubiquitous Dan Mojica, whose work seems to appear regularly around the Southland. The local Melinda Gibb who, incidentally, co-wrote the musical Suds that debuted early at the same venue, assays the starring role of the meddling Dolly Levy. She reminded me a lot of Ethel Merman but without some of Merman’s brashness.

Youngish Douglas Billitch plays her cranky love interest Horace Vandergeller. Vandergeller’s clerks, Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker, are played by Ryan Fahey and Clay Stefanski, respectively. They are both marvelous dancers. Irene Malloy is played by Alexis Grenier Zimmerman. She has a lovely voice. Minnie Fay is the funny Karla Ruth Gilbert. I also enjoyed Clare Solly as Ernestina Money. Jeremy Shull played Ambrose Kemper and his sweetheart was the amusing Sydney Blair as Ermengarde. Justin Gray acted as music director and led the finely tuned orchestra. Hello Dolly plays at the Starlight Bowl until Sept. 5th.


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About Robert Machray

  • Clare

    Thanks for the review! I’m glad you liked the show!!