Dolly Gallagher Levi is coming back to Houston in all her matchmaking glory — this time in a revival production that scooped up four Tonys including one for Best Musical Revival.
Hello, Dolly! tells the turn-of-the-century story of Levi, a middle-aged widow who makes it her business to get right in the middle of other peoples' romantic lives. She's looking for a wife for wealthy widower Horace Vandergelder — although she really has designs on him herself — and winds up in New York City where he's gone to propose to hat shop owner and widow Irene Molloy.
As Dolly works her magic with Vendergelder's attempts to find a wife, she's also caught up in the romantic ambitions of young artist Ambrose Kemper who hires her to help him in his quest to secure the affections of Vandergelder's niece.
John Bolton (who recently completed a two-year run starring as Vlad in Broadway's Anastasia. His additional Broadway credits include Dames at Sea, A Christmas Story: The Musical, Curtains and How to Succeed....) plays Vandergelder, a role he didn't even have to audition for when they decided on a national tour. He was more than happy to accept the offer.
"It harkens back magnificently to the magic of the original 1964 production," he says. One musical number that had been cut has been restored, he says. The national touring show brought to Houston by Memorial Hermann Broadway at the Hobby gives audiences "a first class production we don’t get to see too often."
Growing up in Rochester New York, Bolton became involved in theater in high school mainly because a lot of his friends were participants. "There was this wonderful team sport called the high school musical and it was something that I found slowly that I could do. The more I did it the better I got. It wasn’t my brother’s thing. I excelled in tennis and track but this was something that was mine, that was unique in my family. He said he set out to get a bachelor's degree in journalism ("I wanted something steady," but a stint in New York summer stock led to an off-Broadway production and then on to a career that's already 28 years long.
Asked to describe his character, Bolton says:
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"He is a delightful curmudgeon. He's cantankerous and set in his ways. He thinks he knows what he wants. He's been so set on running the store by himself that he’s sort of gotten lost through the years. It takes Dolly’s machinations to open his mind. "
The musical comedy attracts audience members of all ages, he says, with a universal message.
"It's about how special life is and how special we are to each other whether we like it or not," he says. "How precious each day is and how there is joy in a simple conversation with a loved one."
Performances are scheduled for January 7-12 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information call 713-315-2525 or visit thehobbycenter.org or broadwayatthehobbycenter.com. $35-$120.