Guild's wholesome, heartwarming ‘Hello, Dolly' does not disappoint

By Autumn D. F. Hopkins
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Filled with charm and wholesome antics, the Charleston Light Opera Guild's presentation of "Hello, Dolly" is heartwarming and earnest.In fact, the entire musical is a tribute to one woman's machinations and how everyone falls in love because of them -- or maybe in spite of them.Debbie Spradling, who plays Mrs. Dolly Levi, is a one-woman wrecking ball.She tears through the lives of all her clients dispensing everything from romantic, legal and medical advice to offering dance lessons and cosmetic alterations. She manages to simultaneously be adorable and obnoxious. It is an endearing combination.Spradling's grasp of physical comedy and timing is an art to be admired.She is closely seconded in her comedic perfection by the antics of the not-so-dynamic duo that is James Cameron Vance II and Cameron Lucas Burford, as Cornelius Hackl and Barnaby Tucker.The two are delightful and charming in their bumbling, stumbling frolics and play well off each other while offering the audience a comic treat as they trip their way into New York and into love.
The ensemble numbers are striking examples of classic musical theater.With all the glitz, glamour, acrobatics and frequent elaborate costume changes, these numbers are meant to dazzle and entertain. The show is one spectacle after another -- never disappointing and always entertaining.Ensemble numbers like "Waiters' Galop" and "Hello, Dolly" are a testament to the talent that is available here on our local stage.Not only can this cast sing and dance, its members can entertain. There are high kicks and cartwheels and every costume imaginable paraded across the Clay Center stage.There's even a horse-drawn carriage. So, the horse might be two people in costume, but it's still pretty spectacular and adorable.Family friendly, lively and engaging, one can easily see how "Hello, Dolly" became a mainstay of American musical theater.The show is lots of fun and runs Saturday as part of FestivALL Fall and on Nov. 2 and 3 at 7:00 p.m., with matinees on Sunday and Nov. 4 at 2:00 p.m.
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