Hello, Dolly! is not revived that often. It only feels that way, because Jerry Herman’s score (book by Michael Stewart, based on Thornton Wilder’s play The Matchmaker) is so infectious and ubiquitous, because so many larger-than-life stars have played Dolly Levi over the years—among them Carol Channing (of course), Pearl Bailey, Bette Midler, Bernadette Peters, even Barbra Streisand (in the 1969 misfire of a movie). Any revival must compete with all those other versions of the show floating in our heads, and on YouTube.
Hello, Dolly! Through 10/16: Wed 1 and 7:30 PM, Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 4 and 8 PM, Sun 1 and 5 PM; also Thu 10/6 and 10/13 1 PM, Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire, 847-634-0200, marriotttheatre.com, $59-$64
What makes Marriott Theatre’s version, directed by Denis Jones, stand out is how handily it pushes all those earlier versions out of the way. Part of the credit for this, clearly, goes to Heidi Kettenring whose Dolly brings her own brand of showbiz swagger to the role—her comedy kills, her singing slays, and her serious moments touch the heart—and makes it her own. But she is backed by an ensemble packed with solid triple threats. David C. Girolmo perfectly captures Horace Vandergelder in all his fussy grumpiness. Rebecca Hurd, playing a lively Irish widow out on a lark, gracefully executes a handful of comic turns and then nails a touching ballad (“Ribbons Down My Back”). And Alex Goodrich and Spencer Davis Milford have considerable charm as a pair of goofy, broke Yonkers yokels out on the town.
At a couple moments the show drags. There is an extended dance sequence in the first act I wish had been a couple of minutes shorter. But most of the time, the show flies by, and we are definitely left at the end wanting more.