It seems that no matter how many times the musical Hello, Dolly is produced or how many times a potential patron has seen the show (or the movie version), the mere mention of the name of the multiple Tony Award-winning show engenders excitement — and more often than not, the vow to go see it again.
Dolly devotees, as well as newbies, will get that chance as the Show Palace Dinner Theatre opens its version of the 1964 blockbuster on Thursday and continues it matinees and evenings through Nov. 10.
Set at the turn of the 20th century in New York City, it's the story of the pushy widow-of-a-certain-age, Dolly Levi (Nicole Dominguez, a California actor, director and playwright), who between giving mandolin and dance lessons is a skilled and persistent matchmaker.
She's been retained by the grouchy half-a-millionaire Horace Vandergelder (Christoff Marse, Adam in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at Francis Wilson Playhouse) to find a suitable bride, but her secret plan is to snare Horace for herself through any devious means necessary.
At the same time, Dolly is trying to help the eager young artist Ambrose Kemper (Kevin Korczynski, Joseph in Dreamcoat) overcome Horace's objections to his courting Ermengarde (Sarah Mitchel), Horace's weepy niece. Ambrose and Dolly travel to Yonkers, where Horace lives and operates a feed store. Horace joins them and they all go back to the city.
That gives Horace's two young clerks, Cornelius Hackl (Regan McLellan) and Barnaby Tucker (Thomas Hogan), a chance to close the store and sneak away to the city for adventure. Dolly tells them she knows of two pretty young ladies whose company they would enjoy, nevermind that one of them is Irene Molloy (Heather Baird), the woman who Dolly has supposedly picked out for Horace.
They all end up at the posh Harmonia Gardens Restaurant, where head waiter Rudolph (Troy LaFon) and the other waiters enthusiastically greet their favorite customer with Hello, Dolly, the best-known song from the show.
Dolly opened to rave reviews and went on to triumph at the Tony Awards (10, including best musical) and at the box office, setting records for sales and Broadway longevity and a number of worldwide tours and productions.
After Carol Channing left what has become her signature role, some of the biggest names in showbiz played Dolly — Ginger Rogers, Betty Grable, Pearl Bailey and Martha Raye, to name a few. After half a century, Dolly remains a favorite in theaters large and small.