(Open Air) Theatre: Hello Dolly



Watching a musical in Regent's Park is always going to be a little tricky as the venue lends itself better to plays as the acoustics of the venue... Well there are none. Watching HMS Pinafore four years ago on a chilly drizzly August night did not make me keen on ever going back. Four years later however and on a perfect bank holiday Monday evening - warm and a gentle summer breeze - for Hello Dolly.

Arriving at Regents Park I could feel some trepidation... It may have been something to do with running into a friend on the tube who enquired where I was off to. He thought that was hilarious and when he alighted at the next stop with his mates he shouted, "ENJOY WATCHING HELLO DOLLY!" before all of them broke out into an off-key version of "Put on your Sunday clothes" which trailed off only when the tube pulled out of the station. I remained on the train for another stop. Surrounded by manly men I could feel the glares... And the shame. Although most had got on the tube at Vauxhall where the RVT had its sports day so I probably had nothing to worry about.

Attending the show with Peter, he was quick to spot some eye candy in the crowds while I could only see pensioners for the most part. Before taking our seats, I detect that we were amongst quite a few friends of Dolly and wonder if it would become a singalong. Thankfully (for the most part) it didn't.

Hello Dolly tells the story of a matchmaker who realises she needs to move on with her own life is a great show with lots of rousing numbers (if you like that sort of thing of course). And this is a great little production full of energy and life and was just the thing for the last day of the holidays. Samantha Spiro as Dolly was a standout but the performances by all were marvellous. There was even that rarely seen art form of tap dancing and enough dazzle and spectacle to keep people cheering throughout the show.

Of course being Open Air Theatre there were still a few things that were problematic such as actors speaking while there microphones were not on, or the show being generally underlit, or not lit at all. I put the latter down to the fact that they were worried that proper lighting might lead to a swarm of moths that would lead to displays of lepidoptera not seen since soprano Yvonne Kenny wore a moth broach during the Sydney Olympics.

Still these were all minor quibbles when it was a great night out. Also when there is great weather it sure is nicer to be in an open air theatre than in some stuffy non air-conditioned one. Dolly runs until 12 September. Here's hoping there is a West End transfer in the works as well as it deserves a longer run...

Listen!

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