A “Hello, Dolly!” for a New Age at Wick Theatre
By Skip Sheffield
The Wick Theatre in Boca Raton has made history by presenting a man, actor-director Lee Roy Reams, in the lead female role of the beloved 1964 Jerry Herman musical “Hello Dolly!,” which runs through Dec. 6 at 7901 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton.
The immediate question is why? As talented as he is, Lee Roy Reams is unmistakably a man, and a tall one at that. Reams is half a head taller than Lewis J. Stadlen’s Horace Vandergelder. Nevertheless theater producer Marilynn Wick says that Jerry Herman himself has given his blessing to let Broadway veteran Reams play the role.
Horace Vandergelder you may remember is the “half-millionaire” late 19th century Yonkers merchant on whom widow Dolly Levi has set her matrimonial sights. Matchmaker Dolly has set up Horace with winsome young widow and milliner Irene Malloy (Susan Powell), but Irene is more naturally attracted to a man closer to her age; Horace’s hard-working assistant, Cornelius Hackl (James Clow). Cornelius has a weepy niece Ermengarde (Molly Anne Ross) who has a thing for Cornelius Hackl’s junior clerk, Barnaby Tucker (Jason Edward Cook).
In short, romance is in the air, everywhere in the Michael Stewart book, adopted from Thornton Wilder’s 1938 story “The Matchmaker.” Jerry Herman’s score is one of the best-loved parade of songs in American musical theater history, balancing comic novelty songs (“I Put My hand In,” “It Takes A Woman”) with tender ballads (“Ribbons Down My Back,” “It Only Takes a Moment”).
The unmistakably female Miss America 1981, Susan Powell, performs an especially moving “Ribbons Down My Back,” and she harmonizes beautifully with James Clow on the best love song, “It Only Takes a Moment.”
The large cast of “Hello, Dolly!’ is uniformly excellent and most beautifully costumed. The instrumentation, which was originally to be live, was changed at the last minute to pre-recorded. Once my original skepticism was overcome, I was able to fully enjoy this classic show. I have seen old Dollies, young Dollies, white Dollies and black Dollies. Now I’ve seen a male Dolly, and I must admit he/she becomes quite endearing.
Tickets are $70-$80. Call 561-9952333 or go to www.thewick.org.