published: February 17, 2009
Valentine's Day 2009 was very special this year since it fell on a Saturday. It was an especially special event for the almost full house audience that choose to attend the 2009 version of Happily Red at Theatre Jacksonville in San Marco.
When Sara Boone became Executive Director of Theatre Jacksonville she began the annual fund raising Happily Red concerts. In the past they have been musical revues featuring a vocalist from the New York Broadway scene performing with some of the fine local talent.
This year's edition was a special treat with the performance of the always popular musical 'Hello Dolly" in concert. Instead of fancy sets and costumes, the performers wore evening attire, and carried scripts (although they knew the songs by heart), and acted out the condensed action on an open stage, while waiting for their turn sitting in chairs facing the audience. The orchestra led by Musical Director Eugene Gwozdz and Choral Director Rachel Clifton was also on the stage along with all the musicians and their instruments. In the very back of the stage were two rows of chairs with the large male and female chorus. Headling the show were two wonderful Broadway veterans, Harvey Evans and Pamela Myers.
Harvey Evans (Horace Vandergelder) went to New York when he was seventeen and has been performing in musicals for 50 years!! He has done Dolly with Carol Channing, Eve Arden, and Betty Grable. In addition he has been in many movies and TV shows and is apparently looking forward to the next 50 years as he is still a very robust performer and certainly as charming and talented as ever.
Pamela Myers made her Broadway debut as Marta in Company for which she was nominated for best performance by a Featured Actress in a musical in l971. She has been working in show business every since doing musicals (Sunday in the Park with George, Sweeney Todd, as a soloist with the Boston Pops and Cincinnati Pops and on TV in Alice, St. Elsewhere , Major Dad and Sha-Na-Na'. Ms. Myers was marvelous as Dolly and received a standing ovation at curtain call from the appreciative Theatre Jacksonville audience. This genuine applause was, unknown to the audience, an early present for Ms. Myers' July 15th birthday. Happy Birthday, we loved you!!!
The production featured in the major supporting roles, Sarah Boone as Irene Malloy, Michael Lipp playing Barnaby Tucker, Juan Unzueta as Barnaby Tucker and Miranda Lawson as Minne Fay.
The excellent show was directed by New York Director/Choreographer Jean Tait, who brought the action to life despite the limited space. I was especially impressed with the Harmona Gardens restaurant scene; you know the one where all the waiters gallop around. Using the talents of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts senior, Tanner Lane as the featured dancer, the scene was very impressive and exciting. The large and talented chorus with some of Jacksonville's best voices added much to the show.
These are times when theaters will have to be innovative and exciting to survive, and Theatre Jacksonville certainly took a giant step with this production. Thank you to the corporate sponsors who made this possible, especially to the Title Sponsor, Pacer International, who made the appearance of the two Broadway stars attainable. I can't wait till next year, but Hello Dolly is going to be hard to top!!
Cast: Pamela Myers(Dolly) Harvey Evans (Horace), Sarah Boone (Irene) Michael Lipp (Cornelius) Juan Unzueta( Barnaby) Miranda Lawson(Minnie Fay) Kellie Wyatt (Ermengarde) Tyler Ross (Ambrose), Amy Noel Canning (Ernestina) Jim Goodell (Rudolph) Karl Rogers (Judge) Rachel Clifton (Mrs. Rose) Ensemble: MaryBeth Antoinette, Carole Banks, Joel DeCandio, Andrew Dickson, Matt Fischer, Rene Freeman, Erin Gawera, Lee Hamby, Claire Hubbard, Soo Young Jeong, Tanner Lane, Lana Nichols, Lee O'Quinn, Beka Price, Chris Robertson and Maryann Vacaro.
Thanks Theatre Jacksonville for my most memorable Valentine's Day.