Dolly Levi is back in town, this time at Golden West College in an atmospheric revival of "Hello, Dolly!" that gets its color from two strong lead performances.
Most of its color, that is. The stunning backdrops and lush period costumes are scene stealers in their own right, dishing out an eyeful of Victoriana with every scene change. But front and center are two sure performances by Marcie Ross as Dolly, the meddling marriage broker, and John Vincent as Horace Vandergelder, Yonkers' own "half-a-millionaire," as indomitable force once again meets immovable object.
Ross and Vincent make nicely matched sparring partners. Ross is brisk and all business as Dolly, the woman who leaves absolutely no margin for error. The only glimpse of vulnerability comes in her downstage "chats" with her late husband, Ephraim, and it's fleeting. Ross brings her own brand of aplomb to Dolly, delightfully exhibited in the wild dinner at the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant. She calmly downs dumplings with gravy while havoc breaks out all around her, eats her way right through a scene change, then wipes her mouth, finds some stray particle lodged between two teeth, and in her own good time proceeds to straighten out the tangled affairs of everyone present with the benign authority of a firm mother whose errant children have gotten out of hand.
But Vincent holds his own against this human tornado. When he marches back into the New York hat shop to reclaim his box of chocolate-covered peanuts (unshelled), it is an unspoken exclamation mark, delivered in perfect deadpan. But as that gruff exterior dissolves in the closing moments, everything falls neatly into place. This is a Horace who knows his own mind, after all, and it looks as if it will be a marriage of equals (although one with occasional fireworks).
Director John Ferzacca has provided fluid staging for a show that is traditionally big and busy (and occasionally too complex for its own good). The powerful visual appeal lies in the counterpoint of backdrops depicting pen-and-ink drawings of turn-of-the-century New York cityscapes (created for the national touring company and rented for this production) and the beautiful period costumes designed by Susan Thomas Babb of Golden West College.
"HELLO, DOLLY!" Produced by the Golden West College Theater Arts Department. Book: Michael Stewart. Music and lyrics: Jerry Herman. Directed by John Ferzacca. Principal cast members: Marcie Ross, Sharon Shedivy, Tom Ghinder, John Vincent, Carolyn Smittle, Terry Barto, Bradford Bowen, Julie Reinhardt, Karen Smith, Michael Grenie. Costumes: Susan Thomas Babb. Lighting: Steven Wolff Craig. Music director: David Anthony. Choreography: Emily Kramer. Plays at 8 p.m. May 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, with a 3 p.m. matinee May 17. Closes May 23. Tickets in advance: $7 general admission, $5 for students, Gold Key cardholders and children under 12; at the door: $8 general admission, $6 for students, Gold Key cardholders and children under 12. Golden West College Mainstage, 15744 Golden West St., Huntington Beach. (714) 895-8378.