Mere weeks ago candles glowed warmly in menorahs. Christmas lights twinkled on eaves and living room trees. The riotous colors of Kwanzaa accompanied the celebration of Umoja and Kuumba. Children from 1 to 92 smiled wide at unexpected presents. Families rejoiced with annual visits and lifetime traditions. And though we didn’t have a flake of snow on the ground or in the air, the world felt a little bit more magical as we celebrated the holidays.
Well, kiss all that peace on Earth and good will goodbye because the winter doldrums are officially here. January and February, in particular, are a seasonal nadir during which the holiday hangover combines insidiously with short, dark days and freezing cold nights to produce angst and ennui undreamt of on balmy June afternoons. Fresh from too-short vacations, students again take up their lessons, and workers return to their toil with all the good humor and hopefulness of death-row inmates. Tempers grow short, cabin fever sets in and that nice old lady who rang the bell for the Salvation Army last month just might pepper spray you for parking too close to her Subaru.
It is at this time of year more than any other that we must search out joyful diversions. We all have our coping mechanisms. Whether it’s skiing or snowboarding in our snow-sports-playground of a state, hopping a jet to sunnier climes or embarking on marathon sex sessions with complete strangers, we all find some way to power through this least wonderful time of the year. Thankfully, this year there’s one more way to shoo the grey from the day.
With the Broadway classic, Hello, Dolly!, Boulder’s Dinner Theatre demolishes those depressing, debilitating doldrums. Based on Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker — which was, in turn, based on his much more humorously titled if much less humorous The Merchant of Yonkers — Hello, Dolly! has won Tony awards, Grammys and Oscars over the course of its many incarnations. More importantly, Hello, Dolly! is a feel good, toe-tapping throwback to the heyday of musical theater guaranteed to leave your heart lighter and your outlook more upbeat.
If you are unfamiliar with the singular Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi, a character portrayed most notably by Carol Channing on stage and Barbara Streisand on film, then let me just say that she is one crafty, hilarious broad. In a time when women were still, by and large, relegated to being mothers, or maybe schoolmarms, Dolly is a self-made, self-sufficient woman of the world. Her main employment is matchmaking, but she sidelines in just about any honorable vocation at which a buck can be made, a fact attested to by her ubiquitous business cards.
Hello, Dolly! will have you laughing from the very first scene. Not content merely to tickle your funny bone, Hello, Dolly! also contains some incredibly well-known and well-loved musical numbers, including “Before The Parade Passes By” and, of course, “Hello Dolly.” As Dolly, Alicia Dunfee dazzles. Assured but not cocky, genuine but not sappy, Dunfee’s Dolly hits all the right notes — musically and otherwise. It takes a strong performer to present Dolly as a real woman and not a caricature, and Dunfee is more than up to the task.
As Dolly’s primary customer and unknowing love interest, Wayne Kennedy matches Dunfee beat for beat as Horace Vandergelder. One moment a gruff miser, the next a vulnerable romantic, Kennedy effortlessly works Vandergelder’s various angles. Though he and Dunfee seldom share the stage, their performances are the center of and the principal reason for seeing Hello, Dolly! Both actors appear to be having great fun with their roles, and each is a pure pleasure to watch.
Far less expensive than a plane ticket to Fiji or even a day on the slopes, Hello, Dolly! is the antidote to the mid-winter blues.
On the Bill
Hello, Dolly! runs through Feb. 26 at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre. Tickets are $35-$56. For tickets or information, call 303-449- 6000 or visit www.bouldersdinnertheatre.com. 5501 Arapahoe Ave.