Shea’s 710 Theatre in Buffalo came alive with the timeless magic of “Hello Dolly” presented by Starring Buffalo. This much-anticipated production delighted audiences with its impeccable performances from a vibrant cast led by Buffalo native Michele Ragusa. Ragusa delivered outstanding comedic acting and impressive vocals in her portrayal of the character Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi.
Starring Buffalo utilizes a distinctive “concert reading” approach that brings together a trio of Broadway professionals, talented performers from the local and regional scene, and a community chorus. Alongside Ragusa, the cast featured Broadway talents Ali Ewoldt in the role of Mrs. Molloy and Cornelious portrayed by Kevin Zak, who happens to hail from Buffalo. Each has an expanding repertoire of outstanding performances on Broadway, showcasing their talent in some of the most renowned productions in the theater world.
The cast of the Buffalo production was impressive, especially Gregory Gjurich’s outstanding performance as Horace Vandergelder. Amanda Healey, Gianna Militello, Sidney Bowers, and Brennah Woollis also delivered exceptional dancing, complemented by Jeanne Fornarola’s choreography. Additionally, the community chorus added the traditional big Broadway sound to the concert reading, reminiscent of shows from the golden era of Broadway in the 1950s and 1960s.
The orchestra for the pit included some of the finest musicians and jazz performers in Buffalo. Alison D’Amato provided exceptional direction, and the group consisted of Russ Carere, Craig Incontro, Mark Filsinger, John Maguda, Jim Colemon, Kenny Kuriszak, Lon Gormley, and Rob Zolnowski.
“Hello Dolly” is a timeless classic Broadway production that never grows old. Its witty dialogue, humor, and powerful vocals are always a delight. During the show, Ragusa even improvised by sharing a restaurant meal with the audience and even tossed dumplings into the crowd at one point. And yes, the Josh Allen cut-out made another cameo appearance.
Writing about this amazing production highlights the impressive arts and culture scene in Buffalo. It is a city where innovative and contemporary artistic initiatives can take root, thrive, and serve as a testament to why we are one of the leading cities in the country for such endeavors as Starring Buffalo as well as JazzBuffalo. It’s delightful to see the presence of both Starring Buffalo and JazzBuffalo supporters and patrons in the same gathering!
A big shoutout to Drew Fornarola, Laura Brodie, Michael Russo, and Emily Glick for their hard work in creating an incredible art and cultural attraction for our city. Also, a huge congratulations to the talented cast of “Hello Dolly” for delivering a performance that had us laughing, cheering, crying, smiling, and giving a well-deserved standing ovation applause!