By Cecilia Gigliotti
I love theater. Especially musical theater. Few of God’s creations can top the surreal world that allows people to sing and dance their way through their troubles and triumphs. And few establishments celebrate this creation better than the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam. It’s been around since 1876, and, after numerous lifetimes, has been home to the Goodspeed Musicals company for fifty years this year.
This commemorative season included a special summer treat – Jerry Herman’s 1964 classic Hello, Dolly!
I was fortunate enough to snag a student-rush ticket to the show. I’ve always enjoyed this one, but my school’s band director, who played trombone in the pit, really sparked my interest to come by saying it was one of the best shows he had ever played at the Goodspeed, and he has played many.
Overall, I rank it among the top 10 Goodspeed productions I’ve seen, and that’s saying a lot.
One of the Goodspeed’s features is an amazing ability to fit so many people and so much activity onto a relatively small stage. There’s a ton of action, especially in a high-spirited show like this one.
The two major dance numbers in the second act blew my mind, partly because of the complexity of the dancing, and partly because of the spatial confines in which it was happening. It was a wonder to behold.
I have also always known the Goodspeed for its seamless scene transitions. The set transforms effortlessly from piece to piece, and many set pieces serve as creative doubles for other backdrops. It looks like a snake shedding its skin.
Given that so many productions are slowed down by hauling bulky sets on and off, the Goodspeed’s changes are always refreshing.
And the performances were truly standout this time. All the actors had excellent comic timing.
I can hardly remember a moment throughout the whole two and a half hours when I wasn’t smiling. The ensemble was energetic and synchronized, which is tougher to achieve than one might think. And the woman singing the role of Mrs. Molloy had a voice to die for. I hope my music studies in college will bring my singing ability nearer to hers. The whole cast had the audience hanging on every note.
Hello, Dolly! was one of the highlights of my summer. Catch a show at the Goodspeed and you might grab some of the magic, too.