Review: 'Hello, Dolly!' with Sandi Patty and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

January 14, 2012
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It’s so nice to have you back where you belong.

That’s what the Harmonia Gardens waiters famously sing to matchmaking widow Dolly Levi and that’s what I’m saying to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and its musicals in concert.

A few seasons back, the ISO combined its talents with top Broadway pros and crafted a magical “Guys and Dolls.” Sans sets but with music on a scale unheard of on Broadway, it delivered a show that made even my New York theater geek friends jealous. The ISO is now taking a similar run at “Hello, Dolly!” and, while the result isn’t as transcendent as “Guys and Dolls,” it’s still a delight.

Selfish note to the ISO: I don’t usually make programming requests, but please do one of these every year. Please. Like Dolly at her favorite eatery, these productions belong on the Hilbert Circle Theatre stage. (Or the Palladium, where pops shows are featured on select Sunday evenings).

If such concerts only offered an opportunity to hear a warhorse Broadway score with full orchestra, that would be enough. But maestro Jack Everly and executive producer Ty A. Johnson don’t settle for shortcuts.

First, they’ve lured a musical star into the lead. Okay, so Sandi Patty may not yet have the acting chops--at least, not yet--to head a full production of “Dolly,” but for a concert production, she delivers as promised. Carol Channing isn't missed.

It helps that the show has been tinkered with a bit to take some of the early weight off of her shoulders. Specifically, the cut-before-Broadway song “Penny in My Pocket,” offered early in the show by Horace Vandergelder, the man Dolly’s targeted for marriage, helps strengthen that character. It also served to give more stage time to the wonderful Gary Beach (a Tony-winner for Broadway’s “The Producers” and a vet of the ISO “Guys and Dolls”).

When you’ve got two high-profile leads, it may be forgiven if the supporting cast was second tier. But Everly and company go the extra casting mile with the enigmatic James T. Lane (from Broadway’s “The Scottsboro Boys”) and NY theater vet Laura Shoop (offering a beautifully sung “Ribbons Down My Back”) standing out in a consistently strong company.

What is lost? Well, some of the dialogue is trimmed, the farcical elements in Act II don't quite play. And iif you really were hoping to see the big polka competition, sorry. But those are small, small sacrifices for musical theater bliss.

Go--before this particularly pleasurable parade passes by. 

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  1. A Tilted Kilt at a water park themed hotel? Who planned that one? I guess the Dad's need something to do while the kids are on the water slides.

  2. Don't come down on the fair for offering drinks. This is a craft and certainly one that belongs in agriculture due to ingredients. And for those worrying about how much you can drink. I'm sure it's more to do with liability than anything else. They don't want people suing for being over served. If you want a buzz, do a little pre-drinking before you go.

  3. I don't drink but go into this "controlled area" so my friend can drink. They have their 3 drink limit and then I give my friend my 3 drink limit. How is the fair going to control this very likely situation????

  4. I feel the conditions of the alcohol sales are a bit heavy handed, but you need to realize this is the first year in quite some time that beer & wine will be sold at the fair. They're starting off slowly to get a gauge on how it will perform this year - I would assume if everything goes fine that they relax some of the limits in the next year or couple of years. That said, I think requiring the consumption of alcohol to only occur in the beer tent is a bit much. That is going to be an awkward situation for those with minors - "Honey, I'm getting a beer... Ok, sure go ahead... Alright see you in just a min- half an hour."

  5. This might be an effort on the part of the State Fair Board to manage the risk until they get a better feel for it. However, the blanket notion that alcohol should not be served at "family oriented" events is perhaps an oversimplification. and not too realistic. For 15 years, I was a volunteer at the Indianapolis Air Show, which was as family oriented an event as it gets. We sold beer donated by Monarch Beverage Company and served by licensed and trained employees of United Package Liquors who were unpaid volunteers. And where did that money go? To central Indiana children's charities, including Riley Hospital for Children! It's all about managing the risk.

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