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Review: Hello Dolly at The Black Box Theatre

They said it couldn’t be done, they said the venue was too small and intimate…but Lora Adams, co-founder of The Black Box Theatre in downtown Moline has proved them gloriously, deliciously, and brilliantly WRONG! Hello, Dolly opened on June 1st and it is a “must see” for all you fans of musical theatre.

Yes, this venue’s space cannot accommodate an orchestra but the substitution of recorded music was absolutely seamless and didn’t skip a beat (pun intended). The only drawback was that there were a couple of times the volume drowned out very brief moments of spoken dialogue during a song.

For those of you not familiar with the book for this show, widow, matchmaker and Jill-of-all-Trades, Dolly Levi has set her sites on snagging a new husband. Her target is the wealthy retailer and widower, Horace Vandergelder but first she must foil his plans to marry the lovely widowed milliner, Irene Malloy. Along the way, Vandergilder’s clerks, Cornelius Hack and Barnaby Tucker meet Malloy and her assistant, Millie. Yadda, yadda, yadda, they sing, they dance, Dolly and Horace argue, everyone falls in love and – ta-dah! – lives happily ever after.

Adams has assembled a blockbuster cast that explodes with energy, talent and amazing vocal chops that taps much of the talent coming out of Augustana College which include

Associate Professor of Musical Theatre at Augustana, Shelley Cooper, who completely nails the iconic role of Dolly, Augustana graduate, Jacqueline Isaacson, who plays Irene Malloy, Roger Pavey, Jr., a Junior at Augustana, is Barnaby, and the petite Mukupa Lungu, a Senior at Augustana, who hails from Zambia, portrays the cute-as-a-button, Minnie Fay.

No less notable, however, is Doug Kutzli as Vandergelder and Tristan Tapscott, as Cornelius. I really can’t praise this show enough.

Big kudos are also extended to Madeline Rhodes who managed to adapt adorable choreography to this small stage that gave it a BIG feel.

Hello, Dolly continues at The Black Box Theatre, 1623 5th Avenue in Moline , Thursday through Saturday, June 8 through 10 at 7:30 p.m.