Carol Channing gets the last word on Dolly Gallagher Levi in this splashy, spangled revival of a show she is said to have performed over 4,000 times. The 1964 tuner remains part parade, part medicine show, part vaudeville raised to the nth level of theatrical splendor.
Thirty years after she debuted in this musical adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s “The Matchmaker,” the show is still an uncontested triumph for Channing.
The venerable actress is in rare form, announcing each syllable in her precise manner, her round eyes taking in everything within range, her mouth an elastic wonder as she responds to the odd things transpiring around her. She may make her entrance seated on a horse-drawn tram, but that is her only moment of repose.
As Horace Vandergelder, the rich man who is pulled into Dolly’s plotting, Jay Garner transforms his early stern demeanor to a more twinkling personality. Florence Lacey is charming as Mrs. Molloy.
With his skillful playing and on-the-mark singing, Michael DeVries delivers a standout performance as Cornelius Hackl. Cory English is the appealing Barnaby. Lori Ann Mahl is the pert, slightly squeaky Minnie Fay.
Serving as both director and choreographer, Lee Roy Reams achieves a seamless production of the musical, which features a book by Michael Stewart and music/lyrics by Jerry Herman.
Jonathan Bixby dresses Channing in costumes that may exceed her proclaimed thin resources. But since Dolly Levi is a worker of many wonders, why not?
Sets are credited to the late Oliver Smith, and the lithograph-like backgrounds have a fine look.